DIY expert nails the top job at Kingfisher

 
Kasmira Jefford
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Showjumper Laury will face fresh hurdles
Veronique Laury set to become only one of five female FTSE 100 chief executives

FEW PEOPLE on this side of the Channel will have heard of Veronique Laury, but after renovating three houses of her own, the incoming chief executive of Europe’s largest retailer has knowledge of the DIY sector that goes beyond just the boardroom.

The chic boss of Kingfisher’s French chain Castorama, who is currently working on her third house in the seaside resort of Le Tourquet, has built up 26 years in the home improvement market, having worked her way up from the shop floor.

Born in the north of France, near Arras, Laury studied politics and law at the Institut de Scien­ces Politi­ques in Paris and toyed with the idea of career in politics before opting for the corporate world.

She joined French DIY retailer Leroy Merlin in 1988 working as a store manager before moving to the company’s head office and holding various marketing and commercial roles.

In 2003, Laury joined Castorama as a product director, eventually group commercial director in 2009. After a stint working in the UK as commercial director of B&Q, she was made chief executive of Casto­rama in 2013.

The 49 year-old will become one of only five women to lead a FTSE 100 company when she takes over from Kingfisher’s longstanding boss Sir Ian Cheshire in January, but does not believe she should stand out for being a woman: “I am the proof that it is possible. I have not done nothing different from a man. I have just been passionate about what I was young and being true to my conviction”.

Sir Ian paid tribute to Laury yesterday, describing her as a “real class act” and crediting her for masterminding the launch of own label brands across the group such as MacAllister.

Laury faces several challenges ahead of her, including overseeing the expansion of Screwfix and Brico Dépôt into new markets, the restructuring of B&Q and the integration of newly acquired Mr Bricolage.

However, Sir Ian said he was confident Laury was the right person for the job. “She will do great things with Kingfisher and she will do things I would not have done.”

As well as her passion for renovating homes, Laury also rides regularly and used to be a regular on the show jumping scene. She has a daughter and two sons.

Laury said she had still to make up her mind about whether to move to London or make the one-and-a-half hour commute from Lille, her current home.

FTSE 100 FEMALE CHIEF EXECUTIVES

Moya Greene is the first woman and first non-Briton to take up the chief executive role at The Royal Mail.

Carolyn McCall, the former boss of Guardian Media Group was appointed chief executive of easyJet in 2010.

Alison Cooper became chief executive of Imperial Tobacco in 2010, 11 years after joining the company.

Liv Garfield left BT Openreach after 10 years to become chief executive of Severn Trent this year.