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Long-serving JD Sports CFO Small to retire from role

People pass a JD Sports store in London, Britain April 11, 2017. REUTERS/Neil Hall

(Reuters) - Brian Small will step down as chief financial officer of JD Sports <JD.L> after almost 15 years in the role, Britain's biggest sportswear retailer said on Tuesday.

Small will be replaced by Neil Greenhalgh who has the current role of group finance director, it added. Like Small, he joined the company in 2004.

"The Board is delighted that a planned succession has been achieved. Neil has already made a substantial contribution to JD and his promotion to the board will enable him to contribute still further," said JD Chairman Peter Cowgill.

The board had been discussing Small's planned retirement with him for the past few months, it said. The company's valuation has risen over 5,000 percent during Small's tenure.

The shares slipped as much as 5 percent on Tuesday after Morgan Stanley raised concerns over the acquisition this year of U.S. chain Finish Line.

JD Sports, which operates around 1,500 outlets in 16 countries, has been focusing on growing its international operations, after saying its home market was saturated.

It has opened 39 new stores in international markets this year. In March it paid $558 million for Finish Line, a big bet that it can replicate a model based on tight relationships with Nike and Adidas.

(Reporting by Sangameswaran S in Bengaluru; Editing by Kirsten Donovan/Keith Weir)