Retail Insider held its latest Breakfast Event on Friday with Simon Calver, outgoing CEO of Mothercare, who highlighted just how challenging his role had been, having landed at a business that was behind the multi-channel game.

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Simon Calver: highlighted big challenges

Senior executives from a variety of retailers including Tesco, WH Smith, Just-Eat, eBay, Aurora Fashions and Monsoon/Accessorize attended the event to hear Calver deliver what has proven to be one of his final external presentations on behalf of Mothercare.

Gathered at The Delaunay in central London the attendees heard how he had cut his digital teeth at LoveFilm, in which Amazon took a 30% stake ahead of buying the whole business in 2011.

This experience in e-commerce was a major factor in his appointment at Mothercare. Since then he has been working hard to bring it in line with other retailers in terms of service levels, CRM systems, and Click & Collect-type propositions.

On joining he faced a number of significant challenges in turning the business into a slick multi-channel operator. Changing the internal culture was essential to achieve the turnaround aims and Calver launched the ‘Mothercare 2.0’ programme which was centred around upgrading rather than throwing away the heritage. This has naturally taken time to filter through.

Like all retailers Mothercare has been grappling with the ever-faster pace of technological change whereby it has been increasingly employing a “plug and play” strategy with apps simply put on top of databases.

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Dealing with a lot on the plate

Work had also been required to ensure greater “emotional connection” between the business and its customers. This included improving the tone of voice to ensure simple things like the blog posts do not sound like Mrs Doubtfire.

He also said work was being done to “make better use of the stores, which are an important asset to a multi-channel business” this includes developing them into more of a destination and hubs for mums in the local community. But as of next month this will not be the responsibility of Calver because on Monday he tendered his resignation.

Retail Insider would very much like to thank Calver for his commitment at this time. Many thanks also to the sponsors of this Breakfast Event – Bond DickinsonK3 Retail, and PCMS Group. Without their collective support this event would not have been possible.