Confirming previous rumors, the British Boots retail group says it's planning to spin off its Halfords bicycle and auto parts chain to concentrate on its health and beauty business, which includes the Boots optical retail chain. Meanwhile, Howard Dodd, 42 becomes on Apr. 1 Boots' new group finance director. He succeeds David Thompson who will continue as deputy chief executive until his planned retirement at the end of this year. Dodd has served as chief financial officer of Zeneca Specialties and has worked for other large companies including Novartis and ICI. Furthermore, Paul Bateman is entering Boots' board of directors. He joined the British group a year ago to handle manufacturing, property, engineering, facilities management and cost management.