Kingfisher plc, Europe’s largest home improvement retailer, today announces that Karen Witts has agreed to join the company as Group Finance Director. She will take up the role and join the main Board during October 2012.
Karen will join from Vodafone plc, where she is currently Chief Financial Officer for Africa, Middle East, Asia and Asia Pacific, a division with sales of £13.9bn. Karen succeeds Kevin O’Byrne who, as announced in February 2012, will become Kingfisher Divisional CEO, B&Q.
Karen has significant financial, operational and international experience. A chartered accountant, she has held her position at Vodafone since June 2010. Previously she worked at BT Group for more than 10 years in a number of financial and general management positions, most recently as Chief Financial Officer of BT Retail and, before that, as MD Operations for Openreach. At Openreach she was responsible for a team of more than 30,000 telecoms engineers.
Her earlier career included financial and accounting positions at Grand Metropolitan (now Diageo) and Mars Electronics International between 1992 and 1997, and before that at The Observer newspaper. She has an MA (Hons) in French with Business Studies. Karen is currently a non-executive director of Wolseley plc.
Commenting on the appointment, Ian Cheshire, Kingfisher’s Group Chief Executive, said: “I am delighted that Karen is joining Kingfisher. She has an outstanding financial and operational background at BT and Vodafone, where her international experience will be very helpful. Her appointment will complete the Group Executive team at Kingfisher. It is a strong, diverse senior management team, ready for the next phase of our growth plan under Kingfisher’s ‘Creating the Leader’ programme.”
Karen Witts said: “It is a great opportunity to be joining a growing, international retailer at such an interesting time in its development. I look forward to working with the Board and the Group Executive to help deliver Kingfisher’s ‘Creating the Leader’ plan.”
Karen is also a director of two Vodafone subsidiaries which are publicly listed. These are Vodacom Group, which is listed on the Johannesburg stock exchange, and Safaricom, which is listed on the Nairobi stock exchange. There is no further information which is required to be disclosed pursuant to paragraph 9.6.13R of the Listing Rules.
Notes to editors
Karen Witts biography
Karen has been at Vodafone since June 2010 as Chief Financial Officer, Africa, Middle East, Asia and Asia Pacific. From 1999-2010 she worked at BT plc, most recently as Chief Financial Officer, BT Retail and Managing Director Enterprises and before that as Managing Director Operations, Openreach shortly after its formation in 2006 until 2008. Her earlier career included finance and management roles at Paribas (1997-99), Diageo (1993-97), Mars Electronics (1992-93) and The Observer newspaper (1989-92). She qualified as a charted accountant and started her career at Ernst & Whinney where she worked from 1985-89.
Kingfisher’s Group Executive
Kingfisher’s Group Executive is chaired by Ian Cheshire and, in addition, will comprise of the Group Finance Director, the Group Chief Operating Officer (Euan Sutherland), the Kingfisher Divisional CEO, B&Q (Kevin O’Byrne) and the Divisional CEO, Castorama and Brico Depot (Philippe Tible).
Creating the Leader
Kingfisher’s ‘Creating the Leader’ strategy consists of the following eight steps:
1. Making it easier for our customers to improve their home
2. Giving our customers more ways to shop
3. Building innovative common brands
4. Driving efficiency and effectiveness everywhere
5. Growing our presence in existing markets
6. Expanding in new and developing markets
7. Developing leaders and connecting people
8. Sustainability: becoming ‘Net Positive’
Kingfisher plc is Europe’s largest home improvement retail group and the third largest in the world, with 968 stores in eight countries in Europe and Asia. Its main retail brands are B&Q, Castorama, Brico Dépôt and Screwfix. Kingfisher also has a 50% joint venture business in Turkey with the Koç Group, and a 21% interest in, and strategic alliance with, Hornbach, Germany’s leading large format DIY retailer.
|Ian Harding, Group Communications Director
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|Nigel Cope, Head of Media Relations
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|Matt Duffy, Investor Relations Manager
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|Clare Haines, Media Relations Officer
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Further copies of this announcement can be downloaded from www.kingfisher.com or viewed on the Kingfisher IR iPad App available for free at the Apple App store.
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