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Peter Cowgill

Executive chairman, JD Sports

Knowing its customer and its place in the market has allowed Peter Cowgill’s JD Sports Fashion group to thrive while its rivals struggle in a tough high street environment.

In the six months to 3 August, group revenue jumped 47% year on year to £2.7bn. EBITDA grew 37% to £235m and the group reported a 61% jump in operating profit to £200m. In June, JD Sports joined the FTSE 100 for the first time.

As part of Cowgill’s strategy to lure trend-hungry consumers, JD has paid attention to its store and international proposition. There were net increases of 23 JD stores across Europe, seven in the Asia-Pacific region and six in the US in the first half of its financial year.

Closer to home, JD Sports opened an 8,000 sq ft superstore in Essex shopping centre Eastgate in August, and bought rival Footasylum in March. The Competition and Markets Authority is looking into the merger, and on 19 September referred it for further investigation. Cowgill prides himself on having an obsessive focus and understanding of the JD customer, which has kept the company on top in an increasingly competitive athleisure environment, and led to him being crowned Fashion Leader of the Year at the Drapers Awards 2019.

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