Mothercare replaces CEO with former Kmart boss

Mothercare has replaced its chief executive with the former boss of a US department store as the struggling retailer attempts to secure its future after revealing last month it was in talks with its banks.

The childrenswear and maternity specialist said Mark Newton-Jones was stepping down after four years in the top job. He has been replaced by David Wood, previously president of Kmart Holding, a $3bn grocery, retail and pharmaceutical business in the US. Wood has also held senior roles at Tesco in the UK.

Mothercare said it would benefit from fresh leadership and Wood’s experience in returning Kmart to sustainable profit growth.

“Mothercare is a great brand with a great future but it is facing a number of challenges, not least a highly competitive retail environment,” said Alan Parker, chairman of the UK chain.

“We have made positive progress but it is essential that we have the most effective leadership in place to meet our ambitions for our customers and our shareholders. David has a great track record in similar circumstances across international and consumer facing brands and is a highly effective operator of retail operations.”

Last month Mothercare revealed it was in financial straits as poor trading put it at risk of breaching the terms of its loans. It is in talks to raise the funds needed for a turnaround programme that involves the closure of almost half of its 152 UK stores as sales move online.

The 57-year-old chain is focused on improving its store format and digital offering, as well as reducing costs.

Wood said he was joining a business with “a fantastic heritage and an exciting future”.

He added: “My immediate focus is to ensure Mothercare is put back on a sound financial footing and deliver a successful plan to improve performance. Central to this will be our customers and their experience, securing Mothercare’s reputation as the number one choice for parents.”

Mothercare’s struggles reflect a wider trend on UK high streets. Toys R Us and Maplin collapsed into administration in February, while Carpetright issued its third profit warning in four months.