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JD Sports appoints City veteran as chair after controversial departure of Peter Cowgill

·1-min read
Former Morrisons chairman Andy Higginson has been appointed by JD Sports (Mikael Buck/Morrisons/PA) (PA Media)
Former Morrisons chairman Andy Higginson has been appointed by JD Sports (Mikael Buck/Morrisons/PA) (PA Media)

JD Sports is bringing in one of the biggest names in UK retail as its chairman after the controversial exit of its high-profile former leader Peter Cowgill from the role.

Andy Higginson, the former chairman of Morrisons, will succeed Cowgill -- the self-styled ‘king of trainers’ and one of UK retail’s most colourful characters -- who took JD Sports from the back streets of Bolton to the FTSE 100 and always remained suspicious of the City.

Cowgill’s transformation of the company into a global brand ended in troubled circumstances when he stepped down suddenly amid concern about his pay and a £5 million fine relating to information he exchanged with a rival retailer, Footasylum, during a takeover in a meeting held in a carpark. Regulators are also looking into allegations that JD colluded to fix prices on football shirts for Leicester City and Glasgow Rangers.

It was also reported that Cowgill objected to the roles of chairman and chief executive being separated. He had held both since 2014. JD Sports highlighted what it called “a number of regulatory issues” in a scathing assessment of Cowgill’s tenure of the company which it released in June. The company is still in the process of recruiting a new chief executive, with an appointment expected during the summer.

Higginson was Morrison’s chair from January 2015 until the former FTSE 100 company was taken over by private equity in 2021. He previously held senior jobs at Tesco for 15 years and is also a non-executive director at online bookmakers Flutter.

“Andy is a respected and proven retailer and chair,” said Eleonora Dani, analyst at broker Shore Capital, who has a “buy”rating on the stock. “We see this as a positive evolution”.

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