JD Sports denies hunt for new CEO following media reports

Jun 01, 2021
UK sportswear retailer publishes ‘response to media speculation’

JD Sports has responded to media speculation – triggered by its own annual report – over the dual chairman-CEO role of Peter Cowgill, with The Times (paywall) reporting on Saturday that the UK sportswear retailer had ‘stepped up’ succession planning.

The paper reported that the company ‘had come under pressure from investors’ over Cowgill’s dual role. Cowgill has been executive chairman of the sportswear group since 2004, taking on the CEO role in 2014.

Quoting JD Sports’ own annual report, released on May 27, The Times pointed to a section in the report stating that: ‘Additional succession planning has occurred throughout the financial year following concerns relating to the single appointment of the executive chairman.

But the retailer released a statement today telling investors and ‘brand partners’ that it was not, in fact, looking for a new CEO or chairman.

‘JD can confirm to both investors and to its international brand partners that the board is not engaged in a process to recruit a chief executive officer or chairman,’ it said. ‘JD can also confirm that it is continually reviewing the depth of its management team to ensure  the senior operational leadership team in the business has the necessary skills and experience to exploit the ongoing global development opportunities.’

The company also announced plans to hold its second ever capital markets day in London in October. ‘As with our first capital markets day in July 2018, the day will be very operationally focused with presentations led by the highly experienced JD senior operational team, demonstrating the depth of expertise within that team to investors and analysts,’ states the company.

The statement quotes Cowgill as saying he looks forward to welcoming analysts and investors to JD Sports’ second capital markets day, ‘and to sharing our strategy and execution plans for the further development of JD over the forthcoming years.’

Despite the shutting of shops as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, JD Sports’ online business performed well through the pandemic. The company announced in April that it would resume dividends after beating analyst expectations for full-year profits.

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