Higginson will take up his new position on Monday (11 July) after what JD Sports calls an extensive search process undertaken by the board with the support of an external executive search firm.

Higginson has more than 28 years of continuous non-executive director experience on Plc boards, including senior leadership roles over nearly 15 years at Tesco. Most recently, he was chair of William Morrison Supermarkets plc from January 2015 until the takeover of the business by private equity firm CD&R LLP in November 2021. During this time he oversaw a turnaround of the business and value realisation for shareholders. He is also currently senior independent director at Flutter plc.

Higginson replaces Cowgill who stepped down from the role with immediate effect in May as JD Sports moved to accelerate the separation of the roles of chair and CEO.

“The board was impressed with the high-quality candidates that we met throughout the recruitment process. Andy, however, stood out as the best candidate with his extensive board experience including as a chair and his strong track record in the international retail sector. It is a testament to the quality and attractiveness of JD that we have recruited Andy to the important role of chair,” says Helen Ashton, interim chair. “JD is a great business with a clear strategy, occupying a unique place in the market and we look forward to working with him on our global development opportunities.”

Higginson adds: “Having closely followed JD’s success over the years, I see it as an exceptional business, with a strong strategic position. The board has clearly been addressing its governance and risk management structure and I very much look forward to working with the board and the senior management team, including our new CEO once appointed, to bring my experience to bear and capitalise on the strength of the brands, market positions and channels to market including the global retail store network.”

JD Sports first announced plans to split its CEO and executive chairman positions into two separate roles in July last year.

Earlier in May, JD Sports upped its full-year profit target on a 5% jump in sales for the quarter ending 7 May but said it remains “conscious” of the headwinds looming.