Retail industry guru named as chairman of Tiso owner JD Sports

Retail giant JD Sports Fashion has hired former Morrisons boss Andrew Higginson to take over from Peter Cowgill as its new chairman.

Cowgill stepped down in May after 18 years as the sportswear retailer’s executive chairman. His resignation came after the company was fined £4.3 million by the competition watchdog for exchanging information with Footasylum in February.

In May, the firm announced that Cowgill was stepping down after a review of its internal governance and controls, deciding it also needed to accelerate the “separation of the roles of chair and chief executive officer”.

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Former Reebok and Adidas executive Kath Smith has temporarily been made chief executive as JD, which has a ­controlling stake in ­Scottish outdoor retailer Tiso, continues the reshuffle of its leadership team.

Higginson, who was chairman of Morrisons until its takeover last year, will be appointed on Monday following an extensive search process by the board.

Helen Ashton, interim chairwoman of JD Sports, said: “The board was impressed with the high-quality candidates that we met throughout the recruitment process. Andy, however, stood out as the best candidate, with his extensive board experience, including as a chair, and his strong track record in the international retail sector.”

Shore Capital analyst Eleonora Dani noted: “We see this as a positive evolution while waiting for the formal CEO confirmation, expected over the summer. Andy is a respected and proven retailer and chair with over 28 years of executive and non-executive experience on plc boards, including at Tesco, Morrisons and Flutter.”

Higginson said: “Having closely followed JD’s success over the years, I see it as an exceptional business, with a strong strategic position. The board has clearly been addressing its governance and risk management structure, and I very much look forward to working with the board and the senior management team, including our new CEO once appointed, to bring my experience to bear and capitalise on the strength of the brands, market positions and channels to market, including the global retail store network.”

JD Sports has become one of the most familiar brands on the UK high street while also running a successful online operation.

Last month, JD unveiled a bumper £947.2m annual profit haul, but warned that earnings are likely to remain flat in the current financial year as the cost-of-living crisis bites.

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