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JD Sports chair Peter Cowgill steps down with immediate effect

Helen Ashton has been named as interim non-executive chair and Kath Smith will become interim CEO

JD Sports Fashion Plc has announced that Peter Cowgill, currently executive chairman, will step down from his role with immediate effect.

As a consequence of an ongoing review of the company’s internal governance and controls, JD Sports has decided to accelerate the separation of the roles of chair and chief executive officer (CEO). As a result, Helen Ashton, currently NED and chair of the Audit and Risk Committee, will become interim non-executive chair.

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Having joined the board in November 2021, Ashton has held a range of executive level roles throughout her role. This includes at Asos, Lloyds Banking Group and Barclays, as well as CEO positions in high-growth private businesses.

Additionally, Kath Smith will become interim CEO. Smith is currently NED and senior independent director, and she has “considerable” sports and outdoor industry experience.

Previously, she worked for over 25 years in the sector as managing director of Adidas and Reebok. Prior to joining the board, Smith was GM and vice president of The North Face EMEA.

In this new role, Smith will work closely with the senior leadership team to continue to deliver on the group’s strategy.

Meanwhile, the process to recruit a CEO remains ongoing and a process will now commence to recruit a new non-executive chair.

Ashton said: “The business has developed strongly under Peter’s leadership into a world-leading multi-channel retailer with a proven strategy and clear momentum. However, as our business has become bigger and more complex, what is clear is that our internal infrastructure, governance and controls have not developed at the same pace. 

“As we capitalise on the great opportunities ahead of us, the board is committed to ensuring that we have the highest standards of corporate governance and controls appropriate to a FTSE-100 company to support future growth.”

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