Mothercare warns royal baby may not deliver ‘huge uptick’

 

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 that 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 on the High Street for a 0.9 per cent 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.

Lifted by new stores, Mothercare grew its international revenues by 11.3 per cent. The chain, which has franchise stores in 60 countries, is waiting for the “safe arrival” of the Duchess’s baby before launching a range of clothes, prams and undisclosed “fun” ideas.

Shares in the group today fell by 29p to 441p.

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