Kingfisher is gaining an increasingly international flavour within its management team as it hires Michael Loeve to head up its B&Q business.
Loeve is son of an American mother and a Danish father and grew up in the US, Belgium and Denmark.
He is not the first Scandinavian to join the DIY giant’s management team of late. The Dane’s appointment follows on from former Ikea executive Arja Taaveniku joining Kingfisher in early May as chief offer and supply chain officer.
Kingfisher’s management team is now a smorgasbord of nationalities. Chief executive Véronique Laury is French, while Brits still hold their own at the top due to Steve Willett heading up ominchannel operations and Karen Witts holding the chief financial officer role.
Laury has brought in Loeve for his track record when it comes to turning around retailers in a tough market.
The DIY sector is suffering as the public down tools and while sister company Screwfix is surging, B&Q is in the midst of a store closure programme.
In his current role, Loeve heads up five formats at Coop including its warehouse format, which helped deliver its first profit for 25 years last year.
In his previous role as managing director of grocer SuperBrugsen, he increased profits from DKK6m (£600,000) to over DKK110m (£10m) between 2011 and 2014.
These strong performances came against a backdrop that is similar to the UK, where the mid-market players are being squeezed at both ends by the discounters and more premium players.
Although Loeve’s retail background has principally been within the grocery sector, he is no stranger to DIY in his personal life.
Loeve is married with children – all girls – and is said to enjoy a spot of DIY. His house in Denmark is over 100 years old, having been built in 1912 and as a result needs a bit of tender loving care.
His practical nature is not just evident in his penchant for DIY, but also shines through in his education and early career.
Loeve has a degree and Masters in engineering and one of his first jobs was at Oticon, the Danish hearing aid manufacturer.
At 41-years-old Loeve’s impressive turnarounds at the Coop have led him to be hailed by the Danish press as one of the country’s rising retail stars.
He takes on the B&Q chief exec role left vacant by Kevin O’Byrne, who stepped down from the company at the same time as a restructure at Kingfisher.
The restructure meant that the B&Q boss no longer reports directly into the chief executive, but the head of Kingfisher’s ‘big- box’ format.
On joining B&Q in September Loeve will be faced with overseeing a store closure programme at the DIY specialist as it seeks to adapt to market conditions.
O’Byrne has left Kingfisher in a relatively good shape as B&Q shows signs of gaining some sales momentum.
In the year to January 31, Kingfisher UK & Ireland like-for-like sales were up 3.2% and retail profit increased 16.1% to £276m.
Within that period B&Q UK & Ireland’s like-for-like sales were up 1.4% – the first increase since 2009 and only the second increase in nine years.
As B&Q’s sales increase Loeve will be looking to bring his Coop experience to bear on increasing profitability at the DIY retailer.
He has already shown his ability to patch up his house in Denmark. Now it is time to get B&Q’s house in order.