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Clean sweep at top of Mothercare as chairman departs just weeks after CEO

The top level transitions come at a difficult time for the baby retailer.

Mothercare has announced the departure of its chairman in what is shaping up to be a clean sweep of its top ranks after parting company with its chief executive earlier this month.

The company said Alan Parker had “retired from his position” after six years as non-executive chairman and that it had appointed Clive Whiley as its interim executive chairman with immediate effect.

“The board thanks Alan for his calm leadership through a challenging period, his support and encouragement for the board and the significant contribution he has made to Mothercare over the years,” the company said.

Mr Whiley, who has been given a minimum nine-month term, will be paid a base salary of £480,000 per year.

The 57-year-old holds a number of roles including as as non-executive director for the likes of stamp specialist Stanley Gibbons and is among the leadership at China Venture Capital Management.

The move comes just weeks after the embattled retailer announced that its chief executive Mark Newton-Jones was stepping down immediately to be replaced by former Tesco man David Wood.

After completing six years as chairman, I feel the time is right to hand over the chairmanship of Mothercare to Clive Outgoing chairman Alan Parker

It is understood that the board had come to the view that Mr Newton-Jones’s transformation strategy was taking too long to bear fruit.

Commenting on his own departure, Mr Parker said: “After completing six years as chairman, I feel the time is right to hand over the chairmanship of Mothercare to Clive.

“His experience of successful restructuring and refinancing will help steer Mothercare through its next phase.

“I am very pleased that he is taking on the role and wish him, the board and Mothercare’s management team every success in the future.”

The top level transitions come at a difficult time for the baby retailer, which recently appointed KPMG to advise on a refinancing of the firm.

The group called in the accountancy giant to help it secure waivers to its financial covenants as it looks at additional sources of financing from its lenders HSBC and Barclays.

It is also understood to be weighing up a company voluntary arrangement, a move which would allow it to close loss-making shops and secure deep discounts on rental costs.

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New shops

Mothercare has been hammered on the stock market after warning over profits twice since the start of the year and revealing that talks with its banks were under way.

The retailer last week cheered a much-needed recovery in online sales, up 7.2% over the 12 weeks to March 24.

However, there was little reprieve for bricks and mortar stores with UK like-for-like sales slipping 2.8% over the period as customer footfall tumbled.

International sales were down 3.7% for the period, as growth in the Middle East failed to offset declining footfall in Russia, while total group sales fell by 0.3%.

Retailers across the board have been battered by weak consumer confidence off the back of soaring Brexit-fuelled inflation.

They have also had to contend with surging wage costs and eye-watering business rate hikes.

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