Kingfisher boss doing it her way – but is it right


Veronique Laury rolling the dice


All new bosses look to make their mark early in their tenures at the top but it is questionable whether some of their more radical moves are always relevant. Are they sometimes merely making changes for changes sake.

The decision by new Kingfisher CEO Véronique Laury to rejig her top team’s responsibilities and restructure the group’s organisational chart looks to be an interesting move to say the least.

It’s certainly an experimental play that the new boss is making and one that has a somewhat questionable rationale. The idea is to shift away from the group’s individual territories being run separately (by their own CEOs) and to instead run the company in terms of its different formats.

So all big boxes and all the mid-sized outlets will be run by separate operations directors who will be responsible for their specific format regardless of where in the world they are located. And the omni-channel piece will also be run by an ops director with world responsibility for the digital activities.

The idea at Kingfisher had always been that there was a level of autonomy given to the regional CEOs who could adapt the model to cater for local tastes and preferences. It’s sensible because the retail landscape is littered with failed UK retailers that have insufficiently tailored their propositions to local markets.

I seem to also recall that the large grocers have also tried their hand at running operations on a similar format basis. It has also been used by other global organisations. When working for Panasonic they seemed to be perennially flip-flopping between running their international markets as separate entities (with executives in charge of all product categories in those markets) to then giving senior execs responsibility for specific product categories across all world markets.

The idea at Kingfisher is that the new model will lead to products and operational best practice being easily replicated around the world and no doubt help further deliver on the long-standing group objective of better global sourcing.

We shall see whether this early gamble pays off for Laury.