JD Sports in £5.5m deal with ousted chairman Cowgill

Peter Cowgill

Bury-based FTSE 100 retailer JD Sports Fashion Plc announced it has reached agreement with former executive chairman Peter Cowgill “with respect to his departure from the business.”

The deal includes a £3.5 million payment for “restrictive covenants” and a £2 million “consultancy agreement.”

JD Sports announced on May 25 that Cowgill would step down from his role with immediate effect amid a push for stronger governance at the firm.

“For the period up until 25 May 2022, Peter has been paid his salary, contractual benefits and will be eligible for any appropriate annual bonus, subject to usual performance conditions, which will be paid on a pro rata basis for the period he remained in full time employment,” said JD Sports.

“For the period post 25 May the company will honour his contractual notice period of twelve months.

Separately, the board of director has reached agreement with Peter on two new arrangements which it firmly believes are in the best interests of the business and its shareholders.

The first is a binding set of new and enhanced restrictive covenants for a two-year period, replacing the very limited provisions in Peter’s 18 year old contract.

“These align Peter and the company’s commercial interests, prevent him from working for or advising any of the company’s competitors, and prevent him from soliciting any of its employees.

“Peter will receive £3.5 million over two years for this valuable restriction.

The second is a consultancy agreement for an expected period of three years for which Peter will be paid £2 million phased over the life of the agreement.

“This agreement ensures that both (chair) Andy Higginson and (CEO) Régis Schultz receive his continuous support and assistance as they transition in their new roles, and more importantly give ongoing access to his unparalleled knowledge and experience in building JD into the successful company that it is today …

“The board of JD acknowledges the tremendous role that Peter played in leading the team that transformed the business he re-joined in 2004 into one of the world’s leading retailers of sports, fashion and outdoor brands.

“JD’s market capitalisation exceeded £12 billion and reported headline profit before tax and exceptional items of £947 million in the year to 29 January 2022, both of which stand as testimony to his remarkable and successful leadership and contribution.”

JD Sports Fashion chair Andy Higginson said: “I am pleased that we have been able to reach this amicable and constructive way forward with Peter covering the next three years.

“Peter has hugely valuable experience built over 18 years which we do not want to lose and both Régis and I are delighted to be able to benefit from his considerable talent and advice.

“This caps off what, by any measure, has been a remarkable period of executive leadership by Peter who has been such a core part of the business’s incredible success story to date.

“We are pleased to have settled the terms of his departure and more importantly, to have secured a seamless handover and access to his decades of experience, whilst best protecting our commercial interests.

Having now separated the roles of chair and CEO, recruited a new CEO who brings a strong international and digital track record, as well as locking in the knowledge and experience of Peter, JD is well positioned for a period of continued commercial outperformance underpinned by strong corporate governance.”