It is expected that Schultz will join JD Sports in September at which time Kath Smith will undertake a full handover of her duties to Schultz during a short transitionary period. Smith will then resume her former role as senior independent director on the board.

JD Sports says Schultz brings with him a wealth of retail experience as CEO, including of a UK-listed retail business, and across retail categories including home, fashion, electrical sporting goods and food. In particular, he is said to have a strong track record of effecting transformational change through digitisation, driving multi-channel growth strategies and working across international markets.

Schultz will join from Al-Futtaim Group, the Dubai-based conglomerate which is partner to companies across automotive, retail, financial services, real estate and health sectors, and where he has been president of retail since 2019. The retail division has helped to launch and build brands, including Zara, Ikea, Hugo Boss, M&S, and Lacoste and operates in the Middle East, Asia, and North Africa.

In addition, Schultz has more than a decade’s experience acting as chief executive of major retail businesses. Prior to joining Al-Futtaim, he was CEO of Monoprix, France’s city-centre food and fashion retailer that is part of Groupe Casino. During his time there he launched and executed a new digital strategy, signed a partnership with Amazon, concluded the first international partnership with Ocado, and concluded the acquisition of an online footwear pure play.

“The board has taken this opportunity to conduct a truly global search to find the right candidate to lead JD on the next stage in its development.  Schultz brings exactly the characteristics we were looking for. He is a retailer through and through with experience across all types of retail formats. He has also delivered transformational change through digitisation in a number of his roles. Finally, he has significant international experience which will be very important as he works with myself and our senior team to execute on our growth strategy. We very much look forward to him joining us,” says Andrew Higginson, who was appointed as non-executive chair of JD Sports earlier this month.

Schultz, CEO elect of JD Sports, adds: “JD has consistently proven itself to be one of the most successful operators of multi-brand retail formats in the world. We are committed to going deeper in the international development of our brands applying our experience and executional expertise and further enhancing our market-leading multi-channel customer experience.”

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Schultz’s appointment comes after Peter Cowgill stepped down as executive chairman in May as part of JD’s plan to separate the roles of chair and CEO. JD Sports first announced plans to split its CEO and executive chairman positions into two separate roles in July last year.

It also comes hot on the heels of an announcement yesterday (1 August) that JD Sports has exchanged contracts to sell Footasylum to Aurelius group in a GBP37.5m (US$45.93m) deal.