Deal hinders Cowgill, who will also get a year’s salary and potential bonus, from establishing rival retailer
JD Sports is paying its former boss Peter Cowgill £5.5m over three years, in addition to a year’s salary worth more than £906,000 and a possible bonus worth up to £450,000, under an agreement to hinder him from establishing a rival retailer.
Under the deal, Cowgill will not be able to do business with or advise any of JD Sports’ rivals for two years or to hire any of the group’s staff. In addition, he has agreed to advise its, new chair, Andy Higginson, and chief executive, Régis Schultz, for an “expected period” of three years.
The sports and leisurewear retailer said Higginson and Schultz would acquire Cowgill’s continuous assistance and support, “as they transition in their new roles”.
“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.”
“Having now separated the roles of chair and chief executive, recruited a new chief executive 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.”
The multimillion-pound golden goodbye is the most recent payout from JD for Cowgill, who had already profited from £50m of shares in the company in the last two years. The 69-year-old resigned suddenly on 25 May, just months after the competition regulator penalized the retailer more than £4m over secret meetings with the boss of its takeover target FootAsylum.Buy Crypto Now
JD Sports Undergoing A Rough Patch
JD Sports was also hurt by shareholder revolt over pay in 2021 after it became known that Cowgill was paid almost £6m in bonuses despite the company receiving more than £100m in government support.
Prior to that, the company bailed out on a bid for the department store chain Debenhams, but only after millions of pounds were flushed out from the sports retailer’s value when details of the potential deal were revealed. Just months earlier, JD Sports had controversially placed its Go Outdoors subsidiary into administration, then purchased it back short of expensive leases.
Cowgill had managed the group as its vocal chair since 2004, also becoming its chief executive in 2014. It is known that he left after trying to hamper efforts by the board to split the two roles and take in young people.
His departure was a hard blow to the company, where he led a turnaround in fortunes since his return as chair three years after stepping down as finance director in 2001. Under his watch, the group grew internationally, developed a successful online business, and joined the FTSE 100 after building a portfolio of brands including Go Outdoors, Sprinter, and Fishing Republic.