These are challenging times for finance directors. They will face increasing
pressure if the slowing economy moves into a predicted recession over the coming
months, so to take a new position at an ailing company, in a troubled sector, is
no easy choice. Nonetheless it seems a popular move at present.
His decision to return to a FTSE 100 company after DSG fell out of the index
last December could well have been precipitated by DSG’s decision to appoint an
outsider as CEO a post that O’Byrne could have potentially filled.
The 43-year old lost out to John Browett, who DSG poached from Tesco. But
since Browett’s appointment profits have been in freefall, resulting in a
shocking 30% fall in annual profits when DSG posted its results in June.
Still, Kingfisher is in a no less troubled sector. The British have fallen
out of love with DIY and the housing sector is stagnating, so O’Byrne certainly
has his work cut out
What happens next?
O’Byrne will take up his position as group finance director on 1 October 2008
and will join the main board as an executive director on the same date. He
succeeds Duncan Tatton-Brown, who has been group finance director for the past
four years and will remain for a handover period.
O’Byrne is its fourth senior appointment, marking a fundamental shake-up at
the highest levels. Ian Cheshire, Kingfisher’s group chief executive, has
poached Euan Sutherland from Superdrug to look after B&Q in the UK and Peter
Hogsted, the chief executive of Ikea in the UK, to run its other European and
Asian businesses. Cheshire also promoted Philippe Tible to run the French
Cheshire has outlined a seven-point plan in which O’Byrne will play a pivotal
part. The new FD certainly has the breadth and depth of experience to help driv
e future growth.
Mark Freebairn, partner, and head of the CFO practice at Odgers, says: ‘He’s
a great FD. He’s got great strategic and commercial experience and he’s the
right candidate for the job at Kingfisher.’
Freebairn added that it was an interesting time to be joining a retail
business in terms
of career development because O’Byrne has the opportunity to show what he’s made
of by helping the share price back to where it was two years ago.
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