Unsportsmanlike conduct at JD Group

JD Group shareholders have staged a revolt over executive pay.

JD Sports shop
(Image credit: © Getty Images)

JD Group, which owns retailer JD Sports, has become the latest big company to receive a “bloody nose” over executive pay, say Sarah Butler and Jillian Ambrose in The Guardian.

Last week it faced a revolt because executive chairman Peter Cowgill “was paid almost £6m in bonuses since February last year, despite the company accepting more than £100m in government support”.

While shareholders ultimately approved the package, thanks to majority stakeholder Pentland Group, they did so with “lower levels of support” than usual. Smaller investors also voiced their anger by forcing out Andrew Leslie, the chair of the remuneration committee. Both investors and the public have “good reason” to be angry, says Ben Marlow in The Daily Telegraph.

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Cowgill has steered the company through a difficult period, with online sales “booming during lockdown”, but this “weakens the case for accepting state handouts”. And it’s not the first time JD Group has behaved badly. It refused to pay rent at most of its 800 stores for two quarters and also hurt landlords by putting its Go Outdoors subsidiary into administration.

Still, Cowgill hasn’t had things all his own way, says Jamie Nimmo in The Sunday Times. In May he downplayed suggestions that he would “hand over some of his day-to-day responsibilities to a chief executive”, claiming that any CEO eventually appointed would be solely a “bag carrier”. But after last weeks revolt, a “sheepish” Cowgill was forced to admit that there is indeed a plan to bring in a CEO.

Dr Matthew Partridge

Matthew graduated from the University of Durham in 2004; he then gained an MSc, followed by a PhD at the London School of Economics.

He has previously written for a wide range of publications, including the Guardian and the Economist, and also helped to run a newsletter on terrorism. He has spent time at Lehman Brothers, Citigroup and the consultancy Lombard Street Research.

Matthew is the author of Superinvestors: Lessons from the greatest investors in history, published by Harriman House, which has been translated into several languages. His second book, Investing Explained: The Accessible Guide to Building an Investment Portfolio, is published by Kogan Page.

As senior writer, he writes the shares and politics & economics pages, as well as weekly Blowing It and Great Frauds in History columns He also writes a fortnightly reviews page and trading tips, as well as regular cover stories and multi-page investment focus features.

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