JD Sports is paying its former boss Peter Coogill £5.5m over three years, plus a year’s salary of more than £906,000 and a potential bonus of up to £450,000, under a deal to stop him creating a rival retailer.
Under the agreement, Cowgill will not be able to serve on or advise any of JD Sports’ competitors for a period of two years or hire any group employees.
In addition, he agreed to advise its new president, Andy Higginson, and CEO, Regis Schultz, for an “anticipated period” of three years.
The sports and leisure apparel retailer said Higginson and Schultz will have Cowgill’s continued support and assistance, “as they transition into their new roles.”
Higginson said: “I am delighted that we have been able to take this friendly and constructive way forward with Peter’s coverage for the next three years. Peter has very valuable experience built in over 18 years, which we don’t want to lose, and Regis and I are delighted to be able to benefit from His talent and great advice.
“This culminates in what has been, by any measure, an impressive period of executive leadership by Peter who has been an essential part of the company’s incredible success story thus far.
“After separating the roles between President and CEO, appointing a new CEO with a strong international and digital track record, as well as retaining Peter’s knowledge and experience, JD is well positioned for a period of continued trading outperformance backed by strong corporate governance.”
The multimillion-pound golden farewell is the latest payment from JD for Cowgill, who had already cashed out £50m of equity in the company in the past two years.
The 69-year-old unexpectedly resigned on May 25, just months after competition regulator fined the retailer more than £4m over secret meetings with the head of takeover target FootAsylum.
JD Sports was also hit by a shareholder wage revolution last year after it emerged that Cowgill had received bonuses of nearly £6m despite the company accepting more than £100m in government support.
Before that, the company abandoned an offer to buy the Debenhams department store chain, but only after writing millions of pounds off the sports retailer’s value when details of a potential deal emerged. Just months earlier, JD Sports had controversially put its subsidiary Go Outdoors into management, then bought it again stripped of expensive leases.
Coogill has led the group as its outspoken chairman since 2004, and also became its CEO in 2014. It is understood that he left the group after trying to derail the board’s efforts to split the two roles and draw young blood.
His exit was a major blow to the company, as he has presided over a turnaround in fortunes since his return as president three years after he resigned as chief financial officer in 2001.
Under his watch, the group expanded internationally, built a successful online business and joined the FTSE 100 after acquiring a portfolio of brands including Sprinter, Go Outdoors and Fishing Republic.