The FTSE 100 is to get its fifth female boss after B&Q owner Kingfisher today replaced chief executive Sir Ian Cheshire with the head of its struggling French DIY business.
Véronique Laury, of Castorama, is to take charge in January, when she will join the small team of women running blue-chip companies that includes British American Tobacco’s Alison Cooper, easyJet’s Carolyn McCall, Royal Mail’s Moya Greene and Severn Trent’s Liv Garfield.
Scroll down for gallery
Sir Ian, who has worked at Kingfisher for 11 years and been in charge for seven, will leave the DIY specialist, whose other brands include Screwfix, while its turnaround is in progress.
The shares have fallen 28 per cent since April, and today it reported first-half pre-tax profits down 6.5 per cent with underlying sales up just 1.8 per cent.
However, chairman Daniel Bernard said Sir Ian had “transformed Kingfisher into a stronger business” and during his tenure “Kingfisher’s reported sales grew 23 per cent, adjusted profit before tax doubled and Kingfisher’s market capitalisation increased by 112 per cent to £3.8 billion”.
Veronique Laury will be the 5th female FTSE CEO and 4th French passport holder - joining CEOs of AZN and SN and PRU.; Garry White (@GarryWhite) September 10, 2014
Sir Ian said he could easily have stayed another two years but various projects, including stepping up its online operations and the consolidation of its French business after the €275 million (£220 million) purchase of France’s number two DIY chain Mr Bricolage, meant the firm was “now in a five-year cycle. I have been chief executive for seven years but I am not staying for 12 years.” He added: “Now is the right time to hand over to a new leader.”
Sir Ian, who has worked on many government task forces, said he had not had time to think about his next job but will look at options this year.
The UK business has performed well, led by a 12 per cent sales rise at its trade business Screwfix. An improvement in the UK housing market and consumer sentiment helped B&Q, which cut prices on thousands of products to compete with the growth in the discount sector. B&Q like-for-like sales rose 3.2 cent and UK and Ireland sales were up 4.4 cent.
FTSE 100: Female bosses
FTSE 100: Female bosses
1/5 Véronique Laury, Kingfisher
The Castorama chief executive will take over the reigns at Kingfisher in January.
2/5 Alison Cooper, Imperial Tobacco
Cooper joined Imperial Tobacco in 1999, rising through the ranks until she was appointed chief executive in 2010. The 48-year-old Bristol graduate likes to sing in her spare time.
3/5 Carolyn McCall, easyJet
The former chief executive of Guardian Media Group plc joined the budget carrier's board in 2010. In January 2014, Prime Minister David Cameron appointed her as a UK Business Ambassador.
Valery Hache/AFP/Getty Images
4/5 Moya Greene, Royal Mail
The Canadian was the first non-British chief executive at Royal Mail. A former civil servant, she was named Financial Times Person of the Year in 2014.
5/5 Liv Garfield, Severn Trent
At 39 the Cambridge graduate became the FTSE's youngest female boss when she joined the board in April.
Kingfisher has experienced dire trading in France but profits were flat for the half year and, adjusting for foreign exchange rates, like-for-like sales were down 0.8 cent.
Video: The latest business news
Sir Ian said its share buyback plan will recommence now its succession has been announced. It intends another £65 million of buybacks.
The shares lifted 3 cent today to 316.7p.Reuse content