Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 17 April 2014

Mothercare boss broody despite Duchess Kate baby sales hopes

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge with their newborn son (PA)
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge with their newborn son (PA)

The chief executive of Mothercare has played down the boost the imminent arrival of a royal baby will have on its UK business, despite its plans to launch a range of clothing to mark the occasion.

Simon Calver said the Duchess of Cambridge's baby may lead to a "feelgood factor" and an "uptick" in the birth rate in nine months' time, but added: "We don't necessarily see a huge uptick in activity for our business."

Ahead of its annual meeting today, he blamed weak consumer spending and heavy discounting for a 0.9% fall in UK underlying sales over the 15 weeks to July 13.

Calver, the former boss of DVD rental firm LoveFilm, said: "We expect it to continue to be tough. There are still a large number of people unemployed and the High Street is still struggling."

Calver, who took the helm in April 2012, has embarked on a three-year programme to revitalise its ailing British business by ditching loss-making stores, cutting costs, sharpening up its pricing and growing online sales.

The chain is waiting for the "safe arrival" of the Duchess's baby before launching a range of clothes, prams and "fun" ideas.