Chair­man took 2nd job weeks be­fore col­lapse

Scottish Daily Mail - - City & Finance - by Tom Witherow

The chair­man of Mother­care took on a sec­ond job just weeks be­fore the Bri­tish high street chain col­lapsed.

Clive Whi­ley, who has been paid close to £1m since tak­ing over as chair­man in April 2018, took on the same job at funeral di­rec­tor Dig­nity in Septem­ber shortly be­fore the UK arm of Mother­care col­lapsed, putting 2,860 jobs at risk.

Whi­ley blamed ‘a near-ex­is­ten­tial prob­lem’ on the Bri­tish high street. But crit­ics said it did not help he had taken on a sec­ond job.

Luke hild­yard, of the high Pay Cen­tre, said that while shop work­ers faced ‘poverty and pre­car­ity’ di­rec­tors could ‘blithely swan into lu­cra­tive posts in other in­dus­tries’.

he added: ‘Mother­care is only the lat­est high street chain to col­lapse, where thou­sands of peo­ple face un­em­ploy­ment but the se­nior man­agers pocket vast sums of money. Cases like this re­ally highlight how tough the UK econ­omy can be on those at the bot­tom, while those at the top al­ways land on their feet.’

But a Mother­care in­sider said of Whi­ley: ‘You couldn’t find a more hands-on chair. he’s been guid­ing the way through a very dif­fi­cult sit­u­a­tion. Any ac­cu­sa­tion of not be­ing com­mit­ted is wholly in­ac­cu­rate.’ The row came as PwC was ap­pointed as ad­min­is­tra­tor of the Bri­tish arm of Mother­care and said the 79 stores and the on­line busi­ness would shut within months.

It in­tends to pro­tect its prof­itable in­ter­na­tional busi­ness.

A ma­jor re­cap­i­tal­i­sa­tion was launched, with £3m raised in eq­uity and up to £20m from loans and bonds. It will pay off around £24m of debt by sell­ing re­main­ing stock, and con­serve cash by re­duc­ing pen­sion con­tri­bu­tions for 18 months.

The UK arm lost £36.3m last year, com­pared to prof­its of £28.3m in the in­ter­na­tional busi­ness. The col­lapse puts the jobs of 2,860 shop, head office and dis­tri­bu­tion staff in Bri­tain in dire jeop­ardy.

Whi­ley, said: ‘The high Street is fac­ing a near-ex­is­ten­tial prob­lem with in­ten­si­fy­ing and com­pound­ing pres­sures, most no­tably the high lev­els of rent and rates and the shifts in con­sumer be­hav­iour from high street to on­line.

‘De­spite changes over the last 18 months con­tribut­ing to a sig­nif­i­cant re­duc­tion in net debt, Mother­care UK con­tin­ues to con­sume cash on an un­sus­tain­able ba­sis.’

It closed around 60 stores last year and sought fur­ther rent re­duc­tions be­fore throw­ing in the towel on Mon­day.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.