M. Bernard, 60, left Carrefour, the world's second-largest food retailer, in February last year amid outrage over his severance package, worth a total of €39m (£27m) over the rest of his life. The payments sparked a four-day strike by staff at LCM, Carrefour's main supplier, and is likely to result in increased regulation of directors' pay at French corporations.
Thierry Breton, France's Finance Minister and a former chief executive of France Telecom, said the payment was "astonishing" at a time when low-ranking Carrefour employees were denied a €50 per month pay rise. The pay-off was the approximate equivalent of a year's salary for 1,000 checkout staff at Carrefour. As part of his package M. Bernard will receive three years' full salary over the next four years, the equivalent of €9.9m, on the condition that he does not take a job with a rival food retail group.
Gerry Murphy, the chief executive of Kingfisher, said the circumstances surrounding M. Bernard's departure from Carrefour were not considered when the appointment was made. "Daniel has been appointed because he is a leading international retailer; what happened after he left Carrefour is no slight on his reputation. As a non-executive he will play no part in the direct running of any of our businesses." M. Bernard was unavailable for comment yesterday.
A Kingfisher spokesman confirmed that M. Bernard will be based in France but declined to say how much he will be paid by Kingfisher. Mr Nelson, his fellow deputy chairman, was paid £63,000 in 2005.
M. Bernard is also a non-executive director of Alcatel, the French telecoms technology group, and Cap Gemini, the business consulting group.
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