New Mothercare boss Simon Calver is making progress with his turnaround of the maternity specialist, last week’s interims showed.

New Mothercare boss Simon Calver is making progress with his turnaround of the maternity specialist, last week’s interims showed.

The pre-tax underlying loss of £600,000 was a big improvement on the £4.4m slide into the red in the comparable period last year and beat analysts’ forecasts.

Sharper value, a relaunched website and in-store improvements all helped to stem the losses, and Calver said his transformation and growth plan is on track so far.

If Calver is successful, he stands to make £5.3m in 2015. Earlier this week Mothercare issued details of its management long-term incentive plan (LTIP), and the hurdles look as if they have been set pretty high.

For 100% of his LTIP to vest, Mothercare’s share price will have to reach £7 and group pre-tax profit must hit £70m. This week its share price was 296.5p, while broker Peel Hunt expects a full-year profit of about £5.4m.

Calver has made a good start, but there is a lot of ground to make up. In the core UK market, first-half retail sales plunged 8.6%, while the underlying loss was £17m.

Several analysts stuck to their sell advice following the update – partly because there was no news on margin in the results document – which showed that they remain cautious about the scale of the task still facing Calver.

If he meets his demanding LTIP target, Calver deserves the rewards that will come his way.

Asos eyes a slice of second-hand pie

Interesting that Asos has chosen to invest in fledgling etail counterpart Covetique, which sells second-hand designer fashion gear. Asos has often proved prescient in its understanding of what online fashion shoppers want, so others will no doubt take note.

From second-hand games in HMV to Amazon and Asos’s marketplaces, retailers are increasingly taking a slice of a pie originally baked by eBay – which, in the opposite direction, is increasingly selling in its own right.