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