Bosses who found themselves on the Christmas retail losers list have spent more than a quarter of a million pounds of their own money trying to prop up share prices left ravaged by a flurry of profit warnings.
The high street’s traditional names have had a torrid Christmas as inflation continues to push up prices, prompting shoppers to seek out bargains.
Yet several under-pressure bosses have responded with big share purchases, spending a total of £274,713 hoovering up stock, which had become cheaper during the aftermath.
Debenhams was one of the big losers, issuing a shock profit warning after customers shunned its uninspiring and expensive ranges.
Shares in the department store tumbled by as much as 20pc, wiping £70m off the value of the company and taking it close to its all-time low of 23p during the depths of the financial crisis.
In an attempt to stop the rot and signal their confidence in its future prospects, Debenhams chairman Ian Cheshire and chief executive Sergio Bucher spent £51,415 and £49,956 buying shares at 29p as Debenhams’ shares were sinking.
Mark Newton-Jones, Mothercare’s boss, bought 218,387 shares at a cost of £99,802 while finance chief Glyn Hughes also bought £24,795 of shares. Mothercare also spooked investors after slashing its profit forecasts to between £1m and £5m from £10m on the back of dire trading.
Card Factory boss Karen Hubbard put her hand in her wallet after the discount greetings card retailer’s shares fell by 20pc following a warning that profits would be lower as more shoppers opted for its cheapest ranges.
It is the second time in four months it has disappointed the market. Ms Hubbard, who joined two years ago, bought 20,387 shares for £48,745.
Results this week from Asos, Primark owner ABF, N Brown, JD Sports and Halfords are expected to reinforce the trend of online and discount retailers stealing a march on the rest of the high street.
Online fashion retailer Asos is expected to churn out another 30pc rise in sales over the festive period, although investors will be closely watching whether margins have come under pressure from discounting.
JD Sports and Halfords are expected to have fared slightly better than last year.