With the recession grinch stealing retail's Christmas, this may not be the best season for a chain to switch identities. But that's what Mothers Work Inc. has done.

The Philadelphia-based seller of clothing and accessories for pregnant women became Destination Maternity Corp. this week. Its Nasdaq ticker symbol changed yesterday tue to DEST, from MWRK.

People answering the phone at the Center City headquarters yesterday were still fighting the reflex to say a cheery, "Mothers Work!"

Investors will notice, but not shoppers at the company's 754 stores. As cofounder Rebecca Matthias pointed out, Mothers Work was the name of the clothing catalog she and her retired husband, Dan, created 26 years ago. But the name hasn't appeared in years as a brand.

The Mothers Work name "just didn't seem to make sense anymore," Matthias said yesterday. tue

Chief executive officer Ed Krell said the new name reflected the company's change from the original mission of providing "wear-to-work" maternity clothing to more comprehensive offerings of apparel and accessories for expectant mothers.

Company stores are named Pea in the Pod, Motherhood Maternity, Mimi Maternity, and Destination Maternity.

The Mimi Maternity stores are all getting renamed - but not until January, Matthias said. Some are to be high-end Pea in the Pod shops. Others will become Destination Maternity.

In all, there will be about 65 Destination Maternity stores by early 2009, up from 20 stores now, she said.

While the stock has slumped this year, the company was able to buck the retail trend in November by posting slightly higher same-store sales compared with a year ago.

Matthias said the waning, in the last six months, of tentlike "baby-doll" fashions for nonpregnant women has boosted the need for maternity clothes.