WHS drafts in ex-Mothercare boss

WHSmith has drafted in former Mothercare boss Mark McMenemy as interim finance director at its UK retail division. He will replace John Mortimore.

McMenemy was previously finance director at the maternity specialist, which he also ran during the cross-over between Chris Martin and Ben Gordon.

WHSmith could not say how long McMenemy would be at the business, but it is understood to be about six months.

Last week, WHSmith shocked investors with a warning that profits for the year to August 31 would be below expectations. Sales for the second half will be flat, partly because of fierce competition for sales of CDs and videos, as well as the hot weather.

Investec analyst Matthew McEachran said the profit warning was a disappointment.

'WHSmith has reached a point where it has to make some changes. It has been lax in making strategic decisions in the past, but nothing will be done until the new chief executive Kate Swann joins,' he said.

Numis analysts said the fact that WHSmith blamed competition for disappointing sales means the retailer may not have got its offer right, particularly because HMV and Home Entertainment have both been sounding positive.