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DIY retail group Kingfisher is to part company with chief executive Véronique Laury and consider closing 15 stores.The owner of B&Q will also shut 19 Screwfix outlets in Germany and “address the underperformance” of its Castorama business in France. In addition, it has warned that it expects gross margin to be flat this year after “incremental clearance costs”. The developments were announced alongside full-year results, showing a 53% fall in pre-tax profits from £682m to £322m on flat sales of £11.7bn. Underlying pre-tax profits declined by 13% to £693m, while like-for-like sales came in 1.6% lower, hit by weakness in France. Kingfisher says Laury “fully supports” the decision to seek a successor as it enters the final year of its five-year transformation plan. Chairman Andy Cosslett says: “We are now moving into a new phase where we can extract more of the benefits resulting from the hard work that has been put in, and it is therefore timely that we commence a succession process."
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