Woolworth boss to step down

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KINGFISHER, the retail group, yesterday announced that Mair Barnes is stepping down as managing director of Woolworth 'for personal reasons'.

Ms Barnes, one of the few women in a senior management position in British industry, has been with Woolworths since 1985 and managing director for seven years. She will be replaced by Jonathan Weeks, Kingfisher's strategy and business development director.

The group would not comment on the reason for her departure, but it comes less than a year after Alan Smith joined Kingfisher from Marks and Spencer as chief executive. Although he is responsible for the whole group, much of his time is spent on Woolworth, and analysts have been expecting initiatives to boost the chain's performance.

Kingfisher also announced that Saeed Hatteea is to become Woolworth's merchandise director. He is currently with Marks & Spencer, where he has held senior positions. Last week, the group recruited Tim Breene from Guinness as its strategy and international development director.

Kingfisher's shares closed 2p lower at 643p.

(Photograph omitted)