David Whelan, JJB Sports#; executive chairman, is preparing to relinquish day-to-day control of his sportswear retail business following criticism of his dual role by the Association of British Insurers. JJB is due to discuss the matter at a board meeting on December 4.

Executives will decide whether to begin a search for a chief executive, with Whelan remaining as non-executive chairman, or whether to speed up the transfer of day-to-day control to Duncan Sharpe, the managing director, with Whelan retaining the title of executive chairman.

David Greenwood, JJB's finance director, said: "We have always had one person fulfilling both roles because we do not think the extra costs of recruiting another senior executive are acceptable to shareholders.

"But we accept the corporate governance issue has taken a turn recently and we are giving it much more prominence as a result."

The ABI recently wrote to more than 20 companies where one person has control following controversy at Tomkins over the conduct of Greg Hutchings, its former chief executive. It made particular reference to big retailers including JJB and Marks & Spencer.