The Business On... Ian Cheshire, Chief executive, Kingfisher
Wednesday 06 April 2011
In more ways than one. When Mr Cheshire got the top job at the do-it-yourself group three years ago, the promotion was described by some as a "hospital pass". He's defied such gloomy talk with a string of excellent results – even in the UK, Kingfisher's B&Q seems to be coping with the consumer downturn.
Has he been well rewarded?
Well there's a long-term incentive plan as well as a generous salary. Kingfisher said yesterday that he has just sold £1.6m of shares awarded under the plan.
That doesn't sound like a vote of confidence in his company?
Don't read too much into the sale – apparently he needed to pay a tax bill. And he has given 96,000 shares to his wife, which suggests he thinks they'll do all right.
Indeed, though the gift is probably for tax-planning purposes. Sainsbury's Justin King has just done something similar.
So what's Mr Cheshire like?
"Cerebral" is the word many people use, though "likeable" crops up very often too. He wrote an article last month calling for "a radical reappraisal of capitalism that focuses on well-being rather than growth".
Crumbs, shareholders won't think much of that.
Possibly not – but Mr Cheshire's point is sensible enough: it is that businesses cannot simply go on sucking up resources to produce growth forever. He wants to see a more sustainable form of capitalism.
Has he always been a thinker?
Well, he's an economics and law graduate – from Cambridge University – who held down big retail jobs at Guinness and Sears before joining Kingfisher in 1998 asstrategy director.
But can he use a screwdriver?
If not, he has no excuse. One of his innovations at B&Q has been to get stores to do DIY workshops forcustomers eager to learn new tricks of the trade.
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