JD Sports boss Peter Cowgill banks “special bonus” despite 75% pay cut

JD Sports has announced the appointment of a non-executive director who has held executive roles within Amazon.com and McDonald's Corporation.
Sabetnia's appointment follows that of former Asos chief financial officer Helen Ashton, who joined as non-executive director earlier this month.
// JD Sports boss Peter Cowgill banked special bonus after voluntary 75% pay cut
// He has been handed almost £6m in bonuses since February last year
// JD Group accepted £86.1m in furlough payments for staff

JD Sports executive chairman Peter Cowgill has reportedly pocketed a special bonus despite a voluntary 75 per cent cut in basic pay.

The boss of JD Group has been handed almost £6 million in bonuses since February last year despite the company accepting more than £100 million in government support.

The owner of JD Sports, Millets and Black Leisure, and a string of overseas sportswear chains, accepted £86.1 million in furlough payments for staff and an estimated £38 million in business rates relief last year.

READ MORE: JD Sports snaps up Manchester-based clothing retailer Oi Polloi

Cowgill agreed to a 75 per cent cut in his basic pay – which fell to £700,000.

His annual bonus was also fell from £1.7 million to £1.3 million.

However, he banked £3 million during the year from a special bonus, half of which was paid in February 2020, and a further £1.5 million – which had originally been due for payment in October 2020 – was paid this January, The Guardian reported.

A further £1.5 million was paid just a month later, in February.

The special bonus was approved by shareholders in July 2019 for “exceptional past performance” and was set to be paid in four instalments of £1.5 million each over the following 18 months.

Two of the instalments were paid prior to the Covid-19 pandemic, and one of the payments was delayed after all bonus payments were put on hold in April last year as a consequence of the pandemic.

However, the historic special bonus payments have since been paid.

JD finished its financial year with almost £800 million, while profits smashed £420 million before one-off costs from sales that were up slightly over the year at £6.2 billion.

The retailer has been condemned for restarting dividend payments to shareholders while retaining the government pandemic financial support.

JD Sports finance director Neil Greenhalgh received £871,000 in total pay for the year to January, up from £853,000 a year before as he collected nearly £560,000 in bonuses.

Head of JD’s remuneration committee Andrew Leslie said the bonuses were “reflective of the sustained outstanding performance of the group”.

“The posting of exceptional results during such a challenging climate demonstrates that the remuneration approach and steps taken throughout the pandemic continue to support and drive this performance,” he said.

JD said the pandemic support had helped the company to retain staff: the group now employs 22,336 people, 450 more than in February 2020.

JD said: “Government support was accepted in locations where it was offered, with the primary purpose of retaining the thousands of retail jobs which were at risk during the period of prolonged store closure.

“This government support fulfilled its purpose as the group has not made redundancies on a large scale and the vast majority of jobs have been retained.

“Against this background, the board and remuneration committee decided it is appropriate to reinstate the payment of dividends while also returning to more normal levels of pay for executive and senior team members.

“In comparison with previous years, the executive chairman has received a reduced bonus level this year.”

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