Jun 14, 2021
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JD Sports faces investor rebellion over Cowgill bonus

Jun 14, 2021

Bonuses paid out to JD Sports Fashion executive chairman Peter Cowegill have come under fire with advisory firm Glass Lewis recommending shareholders vote against the successful retailer’s “inappropriate” pay policy at its annual general meeting on 1 July.

Photo: Sandra Halliday

Glass Lewis says shareholders should also oppose Cowgill’s re-election on the basis of inadequate succession planning and a lack of progress on boardroom gender diversity. It also said JD had failed to outline diversity objectives adequately at board level. And Glass Lewis also said JD’s board should have substantially reduced or eliminated bonus awards.

Cowgill was awarded £4.3 million in bonuses last year, taking his total pay to £5 million, despite taking a voluntary 75% salary cut.

The company is under fire for paying his bonuses despite the retailer taking vast sums in government support during the pandemic. JD tapped the UK furlough scheme for £61 million, an additional £25 million in wage support from other countries where it operates, and benefited from about £38 million in business rates relief. It was also granted £300 million via the Bank of England’s Covid Corporate Financing Facility Scheme, although it was never used. 

JD reported pre-tax profits of £324 million and paid out £16.7 million in dividends last year. Its shares have more than recovered their Covid losses, inching downwards Monday morning to £9.15, valuing the retail giant at £9.5 billion.

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