B&Q owner Kingfisher has kicked off the search for a new chief executive as it revealed plans for another raft of store closures amid tumbling annual profits.
Kingfisher said it had begun succession planning for under-fire boss Veronique Laury, but has not yet set a date for her departure and confirmed she will remain in post until a successor has been appointed.
The group also said it is considering axing another 15 stores group-wide over the next two years on top of plans to shut all 19 Screwfix outlets in Germany, leaving it with just an online presence for the brand in that country.
The firm did not give details of which stores would be axed or how many jobs could be affected, but said the closures will be across the group including the UK.
It came as Kingfisher reported a 52.8% plunge in pre-tax profits to £322 million for the year to January 31.
On an underlying basis and stripping out costs including £111 million for store closures, pre-tax profits fell 13% to £693 million.
Ms Laury has faced increasing pressure after the group has suffered declining profits and sales despite her efforts under a five-year transformation plan launched in 2016.
She said: “Leading the transformation has been so exciting but also very challenging.
“As the transformation approaches its final year, I believe it is right for someone else to lead the next phase of the One Kingfisher journey.”
The group’s full-year results showed B&Q sales dropped 3% on a like-for-like basis over the year, while Screwfix remained the star performer with a 4.1% rise in comparable sales.
Kingfisher said it will continue to roll out Screwfix stores in the UK and has increased its target to around 800 outlets, up from 700 previously, with aims to open shops in Ireland from this year.
The group signalled it was moving away from its original plans for its overhaul to give a £500 million financial boost, as it said trading had been far tougher than it imagined.
But chairman Andy Cosslett paid tribute to Ms Laury.
He said: “Being chief executive is a big challenge at any time, but in the current retail environment and given the scale of the challenge, the chief executive role here is a particularly gruelling one.
“Vero felt unable to give the multi-year commitment for the next stage of the journey.”
B&Q’s turnaround has already seen Kingfisher shut 65 shops and slash around 3,000 jobs in the UK and Ireland.
It has also been shaking up its ranges and improving its online offering, while the group recently announced it was investing £100 million as part of plans to lower everyday prices.
Kingfisher has nearly 24,600 staff in the UK and Ireland and more than 61,500 overall.