JD Sports hires Regis Schultz as its new chief executive as it draws a line under Cowgill’s scandal-ridden era
Regis Schultz will take over in September
JD Sports drew a line under the scandal-ridden era of Peter Cowgill yesterday by appointing a chief executive.
The Sportswear retailer said Regis Schultz will take over in September from interim chief executive Kath Smith.
Schultz is head of the Dubai-based retail conglomerate Al-Futtaim Group, which has run international stores for brands including Zara, Marks & Spencer and Hugo Boss.
He also knows the UK market well having served as the finance boss and later the chief operating officer of DIY chain B&Q between 2003 and 2008.
Independent retail analyst Nick Bubb said Schultz is ‘very different from Peter Cowgill’, who ran the firm for 18 years, a period in which sales, profits and market value soared.
But it was also a time when there were regular run-ins with investors over executive pay and clashes in the boardroom over when and how to split the executive chairman role.
The appointment of Schultz, 53, comes a day after JD wound up a years-long battle with regulators over its disastrous Footasylum takeover.
JD sold the smaller trainer chain for a loss of more than £50m after its takeover was blocked by the Competition and Markets Authority.
The saga contributed to Cowgill’s downfall as he was filmed attending secret car-park meetings with Footasylum boss Barry Bown, despite being barred from doing so under merger rules.
It was the latest in a series of corporate governance scandals that dogged the company until Cowgill’s resignation in May. He left when JD separated the roles of chief executive and chairman, both of which he had held since 2004.
After Cowgill’s ousting JD promised to clean up its act and appointed advisers to investigate ‘certain matters’ including regulatory issues.
It hired the former Tesco and Morrisons stalwart Andrew Higginson as chairman, who said yesterday that Schultz is a ‘retailer through and through’ and brings ‘exactly the characteristics’ JD was looking for.
Shore Capital retail analyst Eleonora Dani said: ‘We see the appointment of Schultz as the culmination of the strengthening of JD’s Board, and the addition of his set of skills as reflective of the international opportunities of the business.’
Shore Capital reiterated its ‘buy’ rating on the stock.