JD Sports ‘disappointed’ at shareholder rebellion over executive pay deal

JD Sports has said it is “disappointed” after almost a third of shareholders rebelled against pay deals for bosses at the sportswear retailer.

More than 31% of investors voted against approving its directors’ remuneration report, which handed executive chairman Peter Cowgill £5.6 million, up from £2.6 million in 2019.

The pay package was ultimately approved, alongside JD’s long-term incentive plan (LTIP), which was voted down by 29% of investors.

The significant shareholder rebellion came despite Speedo-owner Pentland having a majority stake in the listed firm and voting in favour of the pay deals.

JD Sports said it acknowledges that shareholders have a “major concern” over its long-term incentive plan as it primarily offers cash-based rewards for directors.

The company added that it has now committed to a “wide-ranging review” of its remuneration practices.

In a statement to the stock market, it said it also acknowledges “there were a number of concerns raised regarding the bonus arrangements for the executive directors and, in particular, the fact that there could be greater transparency regarding bonus targets and metrics.

“The company acknowledges that, with a cash-only scheme, it is more difficult to align director pay with shareholder interests.”

As a result, JD Sports said it is working on incorporating an equity-based incentive scheme as soon as possible.

It came days after the retailer confirmed it is considering an investor cash-call as it looks to continue its recent acquisition spree.

Shares in JD were 2.6% lower at 758.8p following the announcement on Friday.