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Compass Group poaches Kingfisher CFO

Kingfisher plc's Karen Witts will step down as its CFO to join British food and support services company Compass Group PLC for the same role, the companies said Oct. 11 in separate stock exchange filings.

Witts had been a director and CFO at the London-based home improvement retailer since 2012. She is also a nonexecutive director at U.K. tobacco company Imperial Brands PLC.

Prior to joining Kingfisher, Witts held senior finance positions at U.K. telecommunications companies Vodafone Group PLC and British Telecom. She also previously held finance roles at BNP Paribas SA and Ernst & Whinney, now known as Ernst & Young, as well as Grand Metropolitan PLC, which merged with Guinness PLC to form Diageo PLC in 1997.

Kingfisher said the company's board will conduct a search for Witts' replacement as she remains in her position to allow a smooth transition.

In a separate announcement, Compass Group said Witts will succeed Johnny Thomson, who will step down as CFO at the end of December, and become a member of its board of directors. She will also join the board's corporate responsibility committee.

Meanwhile, Palmer Brown, currently chief corporate investment and risk officer of the restaurant operator's North America division, will become interim CFO on Dec. 31 but will not join Compass Group's board.

Brown will remain in the position until Witts begins her appointment "on a date to be agreed," Compass Group added.