LONDON (AFP) – Flagging European home-improvements retailer Kingfisher announced yesterday the departure of Chief Executive Veronique Laury, and signalled fresh closures of underperforming stores.
The company did give a precise reason for the exit of the Frenchwoman, who has been CEO at the London-listed company since late 2014.
“Kingfisher plc today announces that … a decision has been made to launch the succession process for the position of group chief executive officer,” it said in a brief statement alongside gloomy annual results.
“This will commence immediately. Veronique Laury fully supports the decision, and both she and the board wish to ensure an orderly transition.”
The owner of French chains Castorama and Brico Depot as well as Britain’s B&Q has more than 1,200 stores in 10 countries across Europe, Russia and Turkey.
In recent years, however, the group has been plagued by growing economic uncertainty and turbulent trading conditions in the retail sector.
Kingfisher revealed yesterday that annual net profit collapsed by more than half to £218 million in the group’s financial year that ran to the end of January. That compared with £485 million in 2017/2018.
Total sales churned marginally higher to stand at £11.7 billion. However, on a like-for-like basis that strips out the impact of new floor space, sales slid 1.6 per cent.
Late last year, Laury unveiled a drastic restructuring to re-focus on main markets Britain and France – and exit Portugal, Russia and Spain.
In an extension of the plans, Kingfisher said yesterday that it will consider closing 15 “poor performing” Castorama stores in Europe over the next two years. It will also shut 19 Screwfix Germany outlets.
“Castorama France has been disappointing and we are implementing a clear plan to sustainably improve its performance,” said Laury.
“We have achieved radical organisational and behavioural change across Kingfisher over the last three years,” she added.
“We’ve done this against the backdrop of rapid structural change in retail alongside high levels of macroeconomic uncertainty, which are ongoing.”
In early morning deals yesterday, Kingfisher stock sank 3.10 per cent to 237.70 pence on London’s benchmark FTSE 100 shares index, which traded flat.