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Peter Cowgill, Chairman, JD Sports Fashion

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It might have been an annus horribilis for Peter Cowgill’s sportswear and branded casualwear rivals, but his work to reposition JD Sports as a premium business has paid off.

Top-notch stores, a programme of closures and a raft of brand acquisitions to boost the own-label offer have kept like-for-like sales mostly in positive territory for the past year.

Cowgill has taken advantage of the downturn to pick off key competitors such as Bank, which has strengthened JD’s branded fashion muscle considerably. At the time of writing, Cowgill was rumoured to be considering making a full bid for rival JJB Sports after purchasing a 10.2% stake in the struggling chain.

He has also been linked with takeovers of Sir Tom Hunter’s USC chain, and JJB’s Original Shoe Co and Qube businesses in the past 12 months. Cowgill will certainly be one to watch in 2009.

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