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Sunday 08 December 2019

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B&Q owner looks for new CEO after profits slump

Written by Hannah McGrath
20/03/2019

B&Q owner Kingfisher has announced that its chief executive Veronique Laury is to step down following a 53 per cent fall in profits.

The group said she would remain in her role until a successor could be found to lead the final two years of a five year turnaround plan for the business.

Kingfisher reported pre-tax profits of £322 million for the year to the end of January, compared to £682 million for 2018.

Declining sales had led to speculation that the board would seek to replace Laury, who has led the company since 2014 and is one of only five women to lead a FTSE 100 company.

The business has been plagued by falling footfall with its French Castorama brand experiencing trading challenges, in addition to the £111 million cost for store closures in the UK, Ireland and Europe.

Like-for-like sales at UK hardware chain B&Q were down three per cent to the end of January, however this was balanced by a 4.1 per cent growth in trade sales to plumbers and electricians at the online Screwfix brand.

The group’s ONE Kingfisher transformation plan is targeting a £500 million uplift to profits by 2020-21. So far, the plan has led to the closure of 65 B&Q stores and around 3,000 job losses in the UK and Ireland.

In a statement announcing the company’s search for a new boss, Kingfisher chairman Andy Cosslett said: “Vero has been a powerful leader of the business and the driving force behind our plan to turn Kingfisher into a more unified and innovative business.

“We are now moving into a new phase where we can extract more of the benefits resulting from the hard work that has been put in, and it is therefore timely that we commence a succession process.”

Laury added: “Leading the transformation has been so exciting but also very challenging - as it approaches its final year, I believe it is right for someone else to lead the next phase of the ONE Kingfisher journey.”


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