Kingfisher, Europe’s largest home improvements retailer and owner of B&Q, said Veronique Laury will take over from Ian Cheshire, its chief executive for nearly seven years, before next January.
Laury will become the fifth female CEO in the FTSE 100, joining easyJet’s Carolyn McCall, Royal Mail’s Moya Green, Alison Cooper at Imperial Tobacco and Severn Trent’s Liv Garfield.
The announcement came as Kingfisher reported a drop in first-half profits, as a boost from good weather in the first quarter was offset by a tougher second quarter. Pre-tax profits for the six months to 2 August were £375m compared with £401m for the same period last year.
The group, which runs the B&Q and Screwfix chains in Britain, and Castorama and Brico Depot abroad, said it made an underlying pretax profit of £364m in the first half of the year.
Laury has been with Kingfisher for 11 years. She is currently a member of the group executive committee and will join the Kingfisher board ahead of taking up her new role before the end of the financial year.
Kingfisher said the next five years will be particularly busy as it develops its IT systems, and expands Screwfix and Brico Dépôt into new markets.
‘Kingfisher is a strong business, well positioned in the home improvement market and I am delighted and honoured to be appointed as Group Chief Executive,’ Veronique Laury said. ‘Building on Sir Ian’s legacy we will reinforce our purpose to support those who want to improve their homes. In addition we will continue to create value for our shareholders.’
Kingfisher says the departure with Cheshire was amicable, although there are rumours that he’s in line for a pay-off.
Shares in Kingfisher rose 2.5% to 315.00p when the markets opened, and were up 4.1% to 319.90 by mid-morning.
By Elizabeth Anderson