JD Sports executive chair Peter Cowgill resigns with immediate effect

By guest author Georgia Wright from the Retail Gazette

Captions courtesy by the Retail Gazette
  • Peter Cowgill is stepping down as executive chairman of JD sports with immediate effect
  • Kath Smith, currently a non-executive director and senior independent director, will become interim CEO Kath Smith, currently a non-executive director and senior independent director, will become interim CEO.

JD Sports executive chair Peter Cowgill will step down from his role at the business with immediate effect after 18 years at the chain.

The sports, fashion and outdoor group said following a review of its internal governance and controls it has decided to accelerate the separation of the roles of chair and chief executive.

Back in February, Cowgill hit the headlines after the CMA hit JD Sports with a fine GBP 4.3m following a secret meeting with Footasylum CEO, and former JD chief executive, Barry Bown.

The CMA was investigating JD’s potential acquisition of Footasylum at the time and said the clandestine meeting in a car park, where commercially sensitive information was shared, breached its rules.

Helen Ashton

Helen Ashton, a current non-executive director and former Asos CFO, will become interim non-executive chair while follow non-exec Kath Smith will become interim CEO.

The retailer is currently recruiting for a new chief executive and will now begin the process of hiring for a non-executive chair.

Ashton joined the board in November 2021 and has held a wide range of executive level roles including at Asda, Lloyds Banking Group and Barclays, and CEO positions in high-growth private businesses.

Kath Smith

Meanwhile, Smith has sports and outdoor industry experience having worked for over 25 years in the sector as managing director of the Adidas and Reebok brands. Prior to taking a seat on JD’s board, she was general manager and vice president of The North Face EMEA.

She will work closely with the senior leadership team to continue to deliver on the group‘s proven and successful strategy.

Ashton said: “The business has developed strongly under Peter’s leadership into a world-leading multi-channel retailer with a proven strategy and clear momentum.

“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 a FTSE-100 company to support future growth.”