Cheshire is overhauling the group and its organisational structure, designed to help the international DIY giant get back on track as fast as possible.
As always in these situations, a game of musical chairs is being played out among senior executives. We reveal in this week’s issue that George Adams, managing director of European development and chief executive of the UK trade division, has decided to leave at the end of next month.
The structure that Cheshire is working on would have meant changes to Adams’ responsibilities. Although he was offered alternative roles, he decided to call it a day as far as Kingfisher is concerned.
There’s no suggestion that the parting was anything other than amicable, but Adams’ farewell will raise a few eyebrows. He is regarded as a skilful merchant with a deep understanding of Kingfisher’s business and its customers. In his new role, Cheshire needs great operators around him, so it’s a pity no agreement could be reached with Adams.
But Cheshire knows he has to move fast as group chief executive. Because he has spent many years at Kingfisher, most recently as chief executive of its flagship B&Q chain, investors will not grant him much of a honeymoon period. They’ll live with a certain amount of underperformance that can be counted as cyclical, but they will otherwise expect rapid results.
In that context, it’s understandable that there will be movement at senior levels and more change can be expected. It’s vital, though, that retail commercial and operational talent is either promoted from within or wooed from other store groups.
Cheshire will restore Kingfisher’s status as one of the best British store companies – and a retail academy in its own right – if he can build a team made up of a new generation of George Adams’s.
Separately, the overseas deal revealed by Marks & Spencer this morning is the shape of things to come.
It’s relatively small beer – the retailer has paid£38 million to establish a joint venture in Greece and the Balkans with established partner Marinopoulos, but the model is likely to be replicated elsewhere.
News of a joint venture in India with local giant Reliance is understood to be getting closer, giving M&S a bigger and better presence in that booming market.
Foreign excursions always carry an element of risk, but, in the face of a tough and mature domestic market, it’s a risk worth taking.
Expect more British retailers to head abroad this year.