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JD Sports head steps down with ‘immediate effect’


The founder and Chairman of JD Sports – owner of the Fishing Republic and GO Outdoors retail chains – has stepped down.

Peter Cowgill (pictured) had been Executive Chairman since 2004, but departs with ‘immediate effect’ following a company review of its internal governance and controls.

The move also comes after a string of negative headlines that Cowgill had too much control of the FTSE 100 company.

Cowgill is one of the most successful British retailer of the last 20 years and the news came as a shock to the market, immediately sending JD Sports’ shares down by over 6% and wiping £377 million from the company’s market value.

Helen Ashton, a non-executive director who joined the Board six months ago, becomes interim non-executive chair, while Kath Smith, non-executive director and senior independent director, becomes Interim CEO.

The company said last year that it would split Cowgill’s role and recruit a CEO in 2022, but a new announcement said that move had been accelerated.

“Under Peter’s leadership, the business has developed strongly into a world-leading multi-channel retailer with a proven strategy and clear momentum,” said Ashton.

“However, as our business has become bigger and more complex, what is clear is that our internal infrastructure, governance and controls have not developed at the same pace.

“As we capitalise on the great opportunities ahead of us, the Board is committed to ensuring that we have the highest standards of corporate governance and controls appropriate to an FTSE-100 company to support future growth.”

JD Sports said the recruiting process for a CEO and non-executive chair is underway.

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