* COO Sutherland surprises market with move to Co-op helm
* Kingfisher profits lower in Q3
* Shares flat
LONDON, Dec 19 European home improvement
retailer Kingfisher lost its heir apparent on Wednesday
with the resignation of chief operating officer Euan Sutherland.
Sutherland, considered a likely candidate to succeed
Kingfisher's chief executive Ian Cheshire, will instead become
chief executive at supermarket and banking conglomerate the
Co-operative Group next May.
News that Sutherland is already packing his bags after
promotion from running Kingfisher's market-leading B&Q high
street business in February was a surprise, said independent
retail analyst Nick Bubb.
"Kingfisher's 'Creating the Leader' strategy was about
exploiting the benefits of DIY market leadership, but it was
also about creating the internal successor to CEO Ian Cheshire,"
" will regroup and reorganise from within, but
Euan's departure is a blow," Bubb added.
Sutherland has worked at several major retailers during his
career, including chemist chain Alliance Boots and
electricals group Dixons, as well as drinks group
UK sales at Kingfisher were hit by extremely wet summer
weather in 2012, while the decline in the euro has depressed
profits in France, its largest market.
In November, the company said uncertainty over government
budget plans had knocked quarterly profits at its French
operations down 6 percent.
Brokerage Seymour Pierce reiterated its gloomy outlook for
Kingfisher on Wednesday.
" was, in our view, a major contributory factor
in the recovery of the UK business over the last five years,"
said Seymour Pierce analyst Freddie George.
"As a result of the weakening trend, we believe management
will be under pressure to consider a share buyback or special
Shares in Kingfisher were little changed following the
announcement, down 0.5 percent at 276 pence, slightly
underperforming the FTSE 100.