B&Q property director Terry Hartwell is to take over as group property director for the entire Kingfisher Group, which will give him control over a£2 billion property portfolio.
The move ends speculation that he was a prime candidate for the property director's job at Sainsbury's, which has been vacant since the departure of Ian Coull to run property company Slough Estates.
Hartwell will also take the helm at Chartwell Land, Kingfisher's property arm, which last month raised£695 million from the sale of its standing retail parks and development sites to a Pillar-led consortium. Chartwell managing director Martin Reveley, who charted the course through the portfolio as well as overseeing the Comet demerger, will be moving within the group.
Hartwell said no firm decisions have yet been made on how the remaining assets, and the Chartwell Land team, will be reallocated within the Kingfisher group.
With Kingfisher a major player in mainland Europe, Hartwell's new responsibilities will include bringing the disparate markets under a single umbrella. 'It's an international brief,' he said. 'We'll be reviewing the portfolio across all of Kingfisher's markets and brands, and then look at adjusting the organisation to suit.'
Hartwell has been one of the most outspoken critics of Government planning policy, and he is likely to step up his campaign in the run-up to the publication of the new draft PPG6 planning guidance note.
He confirmed that B&Q has now earmarked three more London sites for two-storey outlet at New Malden, Edgware Road and Sidcup, following the success of the trial in Sutton.
'Sutton is trading exceptionally well - it's already attracted more than 1 million customers since opening last March, and it's beating budget,' he said.
'We have three more two-level stores in the pipeline, but they're all mired in the planning process so it could be a while before we can build any more,' he added.