Athleisure Retailer JD Sports Undergoes Corporate Governance Rejig As Planned

  • JD Sports Fashion PLC JDSPY appointed Helen Ashton as the interim Non-Executive Chair and Kath Smith, senior independent director, as interim CEO as Peter Cowgill departed on May 25.
  • The athleisure retailer previously disclosed corporate governance rejig involving the split the role of CEO and Chair and conducting a search for CEO and Chair. 
  • Alongside its much-delayed full-year results, JD justified multiple regulatory issues behind the higher board-level experience and greater internal scrutiny and control, the Financial Times reports.
  • JD has had several encounters with the UK's competition regulator.
  • The regulator slapped a £4.3 million penalty after snaps exposed Cowgill's meeting with Footasylum's chief Barry Bown in a Lancashire car park in 2021. At the time, the two companies were supposed to function independently, while the Competition and Markets Authority reserved antitrust concerns over JD's acquisition of Footasylum. 
  • The regulator also alleged JD of fixing the prices of replica football kits. However, that investigation is yet to conclude.
  • JD also faced shareholder rebellions over executive pay. 
  • Interestingly, JD reported its best-ever financial results, with FY22 sales growing by more than a third to £8.56 billion and pre-tax profit doubling to £947 million. 
  • JD finished the year with net cash of £1.18 billion and declared a final dividend of £0.35 a share. JD expected a similar level of profit in FY23.
  • JD spent €95 million on a new warehouse in the Netherlands to supply stores in Europe and constructed a new facility in the UK to dispatch online orders.
  • JD expected the footwear crisis to resolve with the ongoing administrative and cost consequences of the loss of tariff-free, frictionless trade with the EU.
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