Sir Geoffrey Mulcahy, Kingfisher's workaholic chairman, is determined to prove them wrong. When I met him last week, he was as enthusiastic as ever about his new business, undeterred either by the collapse of the ERM or the damage the two clearing banks had received at the hands of their French subsidiaries. This time, it's going to be different, he insists. For a start, Darty is the undisputed market leader in France; too many British companies make the mistake of buying second best or worse, and as a consequence get squeezed. He has also been courting the company on and off for as long as six years, and therefore understands every aspect of its business; there could hardly have been a more thorough due diligence. The final part of his case is that the returns sought on the deal have been calculated on the assumption that Darty remains a stand-alone business; all the synergy benefits Sir Geoffrey hopes to extract from the alliance will be icing on the cake.
None of this will convince hardened sceptics. But they're going to have to get used to the idea; Sir Geoffrey is clear that before long, Kingfisher will be pursuing other overseas deals with Darty as the model - market-leading businesses in countries with above-average growth prospects. He's betting his future on the strategy working. Let's hope it does.Reuse content