September 11 ,2014 | by Hari Sri

Kingfisher fifth FTSE 100 firm with female CEO after Véronique Laury appointment

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Kingfisher will become one of just five companies in the FTSE 100 with a female chief executive when Véronique Laury takes the helm.

Recent moves to improve female representation in the business world have focused heavily on getting women into the boardroom. That’s where the targets are and that’s where the world is watching. In contrast, the top job of chief executive has received far less attention – but DIY retailer Kingfisher has bucked a trend today by appointing Véronique Laury as its new chief executive.

 

After working for Kingfisher’s French division for 11 years, Ms Laury will take over the top job at the end of January when current chief executive Sir Ian Cheshire steps down.

When she takes the helm of the home improvement company, she will become only the fifth female chief executive in the FTSE 100.

Sir Ian says he is leaving because the company needs a leader who can take the company forward for the next five years. It’s going to be a period of change as computer systems are revamped, expansion into new markets continues and Kingfisher manages the absorption of French firm Mr Bricolage, which it has recently acquired. It may well be the latter which left Ms Laury, with her understanding of the French market, as the prime candidate.

 

Kingfisher clearly has its work cut out, after the group announced profits had fallen in the first half of the year. B&Q, the biggest business under the Kingfisher umbrella, hasn’t seen a leap in performance even as the UK property market has bounced back. Underlying sales were up 1.8 per cent.

But the real damage to the bottom line came from the French arm – profits were unchanged after currency movements were taken into account, and like-for-like sales slumped 0.8 per cent. Castorama, the business Ms Laury has been running, reported flat sales.

 

The French economy has faced problems for some time, and falling housebuilding may well have contributed to the relatively weak performance.

But once she has moved to her new role, Ms Laury will have much to prove. As the Financial Times argues, she will have to demonstrate that Castorama’s issues were down to economic worries and not poor management on her part.

Hari Sri

Hari is the LSBF Blog's News Editor. He manages the editorial content on the blog and writes about current affairs, SME, entrepreneurship, energy, education and emerging market news.

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