Kingfisher searches for high-street chief

Retail giant Kingfisher is to appoint a director for high-street operations to its main board, following a purge of senior directors this week.

The new director will be responsible for Woolworths and Superdrug, Kingfisher’s high-street chains. Kingfisher says it has no timetable for the appointment as it is concentrating on its finals due out on March 14.

The move is a response to pressure from investors for chief executive Sir Geoffrey Mulcahy to appoint experienced retailers to the board of Kingfisher, following disappointing sales across the group.

Superdrug is also reviewing all of its trading board functions following the departure last week of marketing director Kevin McCarten, who moved to Woolworths as a trading director.

The chain is expected to announce a replacement marketing director imminently. McCarten joined Superdrug at the end of 1993 from P&G. He has overseen the repositioning of Superdrug, moving it into new product areas such as personal care and fitness.

The new-look Kingfisher board includes two heads of operating divisions, Jim Hodkinson, chief executive of B&Q, and Philippe Frances, head of Kingfishers’ electrical chains Comet and Darty. They join Mulcahy, who was recently demoted from chairman to chief executive.

So far this year, Kingfisher has ousted finance director James Kerr-Muir, corporate affairs director Nigel Whittaker, development director Tim Breene, and chief executive Alan Smith.

The group is looking for a chairman. Observers have suggested Mick Newmarch, former chief executive of Prudential, as a possible candidate. He is thought to be close to Mulcahy and Prudential has a large shareholding in Kingfisher.

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