JD Sports boss sells £19m of shares one day before stock plummets

JD Sports’s boss sold £19.2million of shares the day before Boris Johnson announced the second lockdown, sending the stock plummeting.

Executive chairman Peter Cowgill, 67, offloaded the stake on Friday for ‘personal financial and tax planning purposes’ at 745.6p, a spokesman for the High Street retailer said.

Yesterday the stock took a battering, falling as the markets opened and again at lunchtime when the share sale was announced. Shares closed down 6.8 per cent, or 50.2p, to 691p.

JD Sports’s executive chairman Peter Cowgill (pictured) sold £19.2m of shares the day before Boris Johnson announced the second lockdown, sending the stock plummeting

Shuttered stores will hit sales, and it is also feared that the recession and a sharp rise in youth unemployment will leave its customers with less money to spend.

It is the second major share sale made by Cowgill this year, after he sold a quarter of his holding for £13.3million in June. 

He now owns 3.8m shares, worth £26.9million. The 67-year-old Lancastrian, who has earned £27.2million over the past ten years, accepted a 75 per cent pay cut during lockdown while shops were shut, bringing his salary down from more than £70,000 per month to around £18,000.

JD’s final dividend was cancelled to maintain cash reserves, and executive bonuses for the year to February 2020 were deferred.

Before the Prime Minister announced the second national lockdown on Saturday, the company’s shares had recovered close to pre-pandemic levels. 

The retailer was founded as a single shop in Bury, Greater Manchester, in 1981.

The popularity of athleisure and casual fashion boosted JD’s fortunes and it has grown into a £6.7billion firm, with more than 2,400 stores in 18 countries.

Before the November lockdown it was expected to pull in between £270million and £315million in profits this year, down from £426million last year.

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