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Kingfisher CEO hints at further acquisitions

Kingfisher Plc Chief Executive Officer Ian Cheshire said Europe’s largest home-improvement retailer may make more acquisitions as weak markets in Europe provide opportunities for deals.

“If markets are tough, there’s an opportunity to lead the consolidation process,” Cheshire said in an interview at the World Retail Congress in Paris today. Kingfisher earlier this year agreed to buy Mr Bricolage, France’s third-largest home-improvement chain.

Cheshire, who said this month he would step down from his post after seven years in the role, also repeated that growth in Europe has been weaker than earlier anticipated as consumers are still wary of their financial future. Spending in the U.K. was stronger than originally thought in the past few months.

Kingfisher on Sept. 10 reported unchanged first-half earnings as adverse foreign-exchange shifts wiped out growth. For the past two years, Cheshire has spearheaded a plan to lower prices and add more own brands as well as open new stores in developing markets such as Russia and China.

“We are seeing a tale of two very different markets,” the CEO said, “with the U.K. generally recovering, more employment and France and the eurozone still having a confidence issue.”

To solve the challenge, Cheshire called on the European Central Bank to do more, saying that policy measures enacted in the U.S. and U.K. have been effective and should be mimicked in Europe.

Source : Caroline Connan - Bloomberg BusinessWeek

29 September 2014

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