KINGFISHER chief executive Sir Ian Cheshire announced yesterday he was to leave after seven years at the helm, having doubled pre-tax profits at the DIY chain and helped to steer it out of the recession.
Sir Ian, who will be replaced by Castorama boss Veronique Laury, said that Kingfisher needed a chief executive to commit to the next five years, when it planned to restructure its burdensome B&Q estate in the UK, overhaul its computer systems, integrate its newly acquired Mr Bricolage business and expand into new markets.
“It became clear that there needed to be a five-year commitment for the next phase and that, realistically from my point of view, 12 years [as chief executive] was not going to be part of my plan," said Sir Ian, who has been with the company for 17 years.
The announcement came as it reported a 6.5 per cent slide in pre-tax profits to £375m for the first six months of the year, due largely to the continued market downturn in France. Profits were flat at £360m when stripping out exceptional charges.
Sales rose by 0.9 per cent to £5.77bn, while like-for-like sales were up 1.8 per cent, driven by a strong performance from Screwfix and B&Q in the UK & Ireland, where sales rose 6.6 per cent.
Sir Ian reiterated his opposition to Scottish independence, warning that a Yes vote in next week’s referendum would lead to higher prices for consumers and would make the country less attractive for investors.