Kingfisher chief executive Sir Geoffrey Mulcahy announced plans last September to separate the company's general merchandise operations (Woolworths, Superdrug and its music retail business) from the more successful DIY and electricals subsidiaries (B&Q, Comet, Castorama and Promarkt) on which it wished to focus. Soon after, it emerged that Kingfisher was trying to sell the general merchandise operations piecemeal to trade buyers and venture capital groups. But after nine months of negotiations Kingfisher failed to find buyers willing to pay the asking price. A spokesman admits: "The figures they were talking about did not even come close." So last month Sir Geoffrey settled on the demerger option. "These businesses are now in good shape to prosper as a standalone UK listed company with a dedicated management team," he said. "Kingfisher has consistently invested for the future including Superdrug's shift into health and beauty and new formats such as Big W and General Store. We believe shareholders should have an opportunity to benefit from this." Most analysts remain unconvinced. "Demerger was the least attractive solution," says one. "No general merchandise business is an attractive proposition at the moment." {{FEAT. GENERAL }}