Kingfisher makes high-level changes

Kingfisher, the troubled Woolworths to Comet retailer, announced a raft of director level changes yesterday, though the reshuffle was immediately dismissed by some analysts as an inconsequential "rearranging of the deck chairs".

Kingfisher has been under pressure to beef up the operational management at its subsidiaries after a disastrous trading statement last month showed that Woolworths and Comet were the group's two main problem areas. Sir Geoff Mulchay, who was demoted from executive chairman to chief executive following the profits warning, made changes at both yesterday.

Eddie Styring, a Kingfisher old hand, returns to Comet as chairman after five years away. Mr Styring, who worked at Comet in the late 1980s and at Dixons before that, is being brought in over the head of Brent Wilkinson, who remains managing director.

At Woolworths, where Roger Jones took over as managing director late last month, two new trading directors have been appointed, though both are internal moves. Saeed Hattea, a former Marks & Spencer man, is leaving the company as a result.

At B&Q, now under renewed pressure following Sainsbury's takeover of Texas Homecare last month, Martin Toogood, is being drafted in as managing director. He moves across from Woolworths.

Nigel Whittaker, Kingfisher's corporate affairs director, denied the moves were to give the impression of change when no new blood was coming in.