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Darty appoints new chief executive

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

British electrical goods retail group Darty on Friday named Frenchman Regis Schultz, boss of French retailer BUT, as its new boss amid challenging times for the company.

"Darty plc today announces the appointment of Regis Schultz as its new chief executive from 1 May 2013," said a statement from Darty, which was formerly known as Kesa Electricals.

Schultz, 44, has been chief executive of BUT since 2008 and prior to this he held a number of senior positions at London-listed Kingfisher, which is Europe's biggest home improvements chain.

He replaces finance director Dominic Platt, who was appointed interim chief executive in January following the resignation of former boss Thierry Falque-Pierrotin last year.

The group added Friday that Darty France managing director Bruno Cremel would step down at the end of May, following a handover process with Schultz.

"I am delighted to welcome Regis to Darty as our new chief executive," said Chairman Alan Parker in the statement.

"He brings with him both a passion for, and extensive experience in, European retailing.

"The board and I look forward to working with him on our plans -- 'Nouvelle Confiance' -- to restore shareholder value by eliminating losses at our non-core businesses, increasing profitability in our core businesses from our market leadership and developing future growth initiatives, and by improving efficiencies in the cost base."

Schultz added: "Darty is one of Europe's leading retailers and I am very pleased to be given the opportunity to lead the group at this important time."

Last month, Darty had revealed that net losses were slashed in the first half of its financial year, but signalled more possible disposals as conditions deteriorated.

The company, fresh from selling its Italian business in November, had also revealed that it was now examining options for struggling divisions in Spain, the Czech Republic and Slovakia.

Losses after taxation stood at 8.1 million euros ($10.5 million) in the six months to October. That compared with a net loss of 197 million euros in the same period of the prior fiscal year.

Analysts meanwhile welcomed the appointment of Schultz on Friday.

"A new CEO on board will help to bring clarity to the future trading strategy of the group and his experience in France will undoubtedly be useful in stabilising Darty France," said analyst Kate Calvert at brokers Seymour Pierce.

In 2012, Kesa renamed itself Darty to reflect its key brand -- the Darty electrical stores in France. Kesa had agreed in 2011 to sell its loss-making British arm Comet for a nominal fee to private investment firm OpCapita.

However, late last year, Comet collapsed into administration -- which is the process whereby a troubled company calls upon independent expert financial help to remain operational -- and subsequently closed all of its stores.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/130201/darty-appoints-new-chief-executive-0