John Colley will have felt like he was returning home when he walked into Kingfisher’s Paddington headquarters this month.
Colley began his formal career training at Kingfisher owned Woolworths in 1994 before embarking on an eclectic career that has to-date encompassed roles with Home Retail Group, Majestic Wine, and most recently a short two-month spell as CEO of Hobbycraft.
That role didn’t work out for Colley but his latest position as group trading director at Kingfisher feels tailor-made for him, not least because of his long association with the company. Besides his seven years with Woolworths, Colley held various senior roles with Kingfisher between 2008 and 2015 before leaving to become managing director of Majestic’s retail arm.
There’s a reason Colley keeps getting drawn back to the home improvements sector: DIY is in his blood having started out working in the family electricals business. And it’s a passion for helping people create homes they can be proud of that acts like a magnet to this specific area of retail.
Kingfisher boss Véronique Laury has also been a key factor in his return. Colley is impressed with Laury’s vision for the company which involves delivering one consistent proposition across a portfolio of European retailers that includes Screwfix, Castorama and Brico Dépôt. And he is excited at the prospect of playing a key role in the group’s transformation which will initially see him focus on stripping out unnecessary product duplication across the group.
I fully expect Colley to hit the ground running back at Kingfisher. He is likeable with a strong work ethic and is not afraid of making tough decisions. He is highly thought of within the business and I’ve no doubt that in time there will be opportunities for him to progress into an even more influential role.
I mustn’t let this week pass without mentioning Judith McKenna’s promotion to the role of head of international at Walmart. Although not strictly a UK appointment, McKenna will have oversight of the Asda business as part of her remit and will no doubt be keeping close tabs on the state of the UK grocery market.
Her promotion is just a reward for someone who is extremely highly regarded within the retail sector to the point that analysts believed her departure from Asda in 2013 would be viewed positively by the supermarket’s rivals.
None of the UK’s big four grocers has ever had a female chief executive despite plenty of plausible candidates. It would be no surprise to see McKenna buck the trend at some point in the not-too-distant future, assuming Walmart’s kingmakers don’t crown her first.