M&S's Alan Smith moves to Kingfisher

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The Independent Online
THE MAN who masterminded Marks and Spencer's ill-fated acquisition of the US menswear chain Brooks Brothers was yesterday appointed chief executive of Kingfisher, the Woolworth to Comet stores group.

Alan Smith, who resigned yesterday as M&S store development director, will be responsible for the day-to- day UK retail operations of Kingfisher, reporting to the executive chairman Sir Geoff Mulcahy, who drops his chief executive title.

Mr Smith headed the M&S business development group set up in 1987 to investigate opportunities in the US, which led to the purchase of Brooks. According to one source, although Mr Smith identified Brooks and Kings supermarkets as investment opportunities, he did not negotiate the dollars 858m purchase price. M&S subsequently admitted it paid too much for Brooks.

Mr Smith, 52, was considered a possible candidate to succeed Sir Richard Greenbury as chairman of M&S, though he might have been deemed too old by the time Sir Richard retires. A high-flyer who has served spells on the food, clothing and personnel sides of M&S, he achieved a position on the main board by the age of 37.

Nigel Whittaker, corporate affairs director of Kingfisher, said the dual role was split because of the increased workload on Sir Geoff as Kingfisher expanded.

Sir Geoff would concentrate on strategy and have responsibility for Darty, the recently acquired French electrical retailer.

On reports that Mr Smith would receive a pounds 1m package, Mr Whittaker commented that his pay would reflect the market rate. He would also qualify for an incentive bonus and stock options.