// JD Sports chairman Peter Cowgill rejects criticism from investors for receiving £4.3m in bonuses
// Cowgill said that the pay increase in 2020 was due to a long-term incentive share plan
The chairman of JD Sports has rejected criticism of the large bonus he received despite the retailer taking millions of pounds in government support.
Peter Cowgill told the BBC that the “lion’s share” of the £4.3m bonus related to work done prior to January 2019.
He also ignored suggestions that the business should repay furlough money.
The shareholder advisory group Glass Lewis has urged investors in the sportswear chain to vote against what it calls an “inappropriate” pay policy.
At JD Sports’ annual general meeting on July 1, shareholders will have the opportunity to vote, although this will not be binding.
Mr Cowgill told the BBC’s World at One that the pay increase in 2020 was due to a long-term incentive share plan (Ltip), and that he had only received one dividend from the plan over the past eight years.
He said that over that period, the firm’s profits went from £82m to £420m.
Mr Cowgill stated that the business had utilised the furlough scheme correctly to support jobs and that the company should not volunteer to pay it back, as rivals Primark and Asos have done.
He said that Primark was part of a larger company, AB Foods, whose revenues were boosted by strong food sales last year, while Asos was a pure online operator without the same overheads.
Mr Cowgill said it was possible investors might vote against his pay package, but said why would they when the company has progressed and is increasing levels of employment throughout.
As a non-essential retailer, JD Sports’ shops were forced to close for long periods at the height of the pandemic and the firm received £61m through the UK furlough scheme and an estimated £38m in business rates relief.
It benefitted from an additional £25m in wage support from other countries where it operates, including the US.
JD Sports was also provisionally granted an emergency £300m loan from the Bank of England, although the company points out that it was, in the end, not needed and never accessed.