Allied Carpets poaches Kingfisher director

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KINGFISHER'S chief executive, Sir Geoff Mulcahy, suffered another setback yesterday when one of his key directors was poached to become the new chief executive of the struggling retailer Allied Carpets.

Geoff Brady, who was previously in charge of developing Kingfisher's new general merchandise hypermarket format, the Big W, will join Allied Carpets next month

News of his departure comes just a day after Kingfisher's proposed merger with Asda was trumped by Wal-Mart's surprise pounds 6.7bn agreed bid for the supermarket group. It is understood that Sir Geoff was in talks with Mr Brady regarding his departure on Monday morning when Asda's chief executive, Allan Leighton, telephoned him with news of the Wal-Mart deal. "It's been a bad couple of days for Geoff," one analyst said.

The departure of Mr Brady came as a surprise to analysts as he was in Edinburgh only last week showing brokers around the first branch of Big W. Mr Brady, 45, was previously in charge of Superdrug, where he helped with the transformation of the chain into a more serious challenger to Boots.

Allied Carpets accompanied news of its chief executive appointment with its second profits warning in as many months. The company said sales were volatile and margins under pressure. It added that like-for-like sales in the year to date are down by 7.6 per cent. "The continuing poor sales conditions will impact the year's expected results," the company said.

Commenting on the task ahead, Mr Brady said: "Allied Carpets has excellent instant brand recognition. My immediate challenge will be to remotivate the staff who have been through a difficult period."

The company has been under pressure since last summer when an accounting scandal led to a profits warning and the departure of two directors. Then Ray Nethercott quit as managing director after admitting that he had been aware of the practice of booking sales when they had been made, rather than after the carpets were fitted as was supposed to be company policy.

Allied Carpets shares closed down 2p at 29p.