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JD Sports denies hunting for new chief

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JD Sports has denied it is searching for a new chairman or chief executive amid reports it is planning a succession.

The business said it is not on the hunt for someone who could take over roles from current executive chairman Peter Cowgill, who has been at the helm of the company since 2004.

“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,” the business said.

However, it added: “JD can also confirm that it is continually reviewing the depth of its management team to ensure that the senior operational leadership team in the business has the necessary skills and experience to exploit the ongoing global development opportunities.”

It followed speculation over the weekend after reporters spotted a line in JD’s annual report which suggested that the retailer might be ramping up succession plans.

On Saturday the Times reported that JD said: “Additional succession planning has occurred throughout the financial year following concerns relating to the single appointment of the executive chairman.”

Mr Cowgill has been chairman for around 17 years and took over the chief executive’s responsibilities in 2014.

He confirmed to the Times that investors are sometimes a little unsure about one person holding both positions, although he said it is more common in the US.

“I’m definitely not going anywhere,” he told the newspaper.

As if to hammer this home, JD said Mr Cowgill will be present for the company’s capital markets day in October this year.

“In conjunction with the senior leadership team, I look forward to welcoming investors and analysts to our second capital markets day and to sharing our strategy and execution plans for the further development of JD over the forthcoming years,” Mr Cowgill said in a statement.

Last week it was also revealed that Mr Cowgill had been given a total of £6 million in bonus payments since February 2020. The move was criticised as JD took Government support during the pandemic.