Kingfisher poaches directors from rivals

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The Independent Online

The B&Q owner Kingfisher has raided rival retailers Ikea and Dixons to secure two senior executives, in a move that completes the group's new-look management team.

Kingfisher has poached Kevin O'Byrne from DSG International, formerly Dixons, to take over as group finance director from the beginning of October. Peter Hogsted arrives in September from the Swedish furniture giant Ikea, as the chief executive of its international business. Kingfisher said the two hires "complete the group's senior management team".

Analysts at Cazenove said: "From the Kingfisher perspective, we would see this as good news. Chief executive Ian Cheshire's strategy includes greater top management involvement across the group's divisions."

Mr O'Byrne, who has been DSG's finance director since 2004, will replace Duncan Tatton-Brown. Mr Tatton-Brown has left on good terms "to pursue a new career outside the group", Kingfisher said. It is understood that, after four years as Kingfisher's finance director, he was unwilling to commit to staying at the group for four more.

The news of Mr O'Byrne's defection to Kingfisher is the latest blow for DSG, after it issued two profit warnings this year and reported an annual loss last month.

It moved quickly to fill the gap yesterday, announcing an internal promotion. Nicholas Cadbury, who was previously financial director for the group's internal electricals business, has stepped up to the role with immediate effect.

Mr Hogsted is to take up the newly created position of head of Kingfisher International, which covers Poland, Russia, Italy, Turkey and China, which has proved a headache for the group this year.

At Ikea, he headed the UK operations, and was also chairman of the group's business in Poland, the Czech republic, Slovakia, Ireland and Hungary. He will also be replaced by an internal hire in Martin Hansson.

Ian Cheshire, appointed in February, said he was delighted at the appointments. "I believe we now have a very strong top team with a clear focus on delivering a step-change in shareholder value."

Mr Hogsted is the third of the newly created regional heads, after the recent appointment of Euan Suth-erland as head of UK and Philippe Tible as head of France. All three, along with Mr O'Byrne, comprise Kingfisher's newly formed retail board.

Last month, Kingfisher warned that the DIY sector had fallen following weakening consumer spending and the credit crunch, with sales down by 8.1 per cent between February and April.