People pass a Go Outdoors shop in Southport, Merseyside
Go Outdoors kept its shops closed for almost three months during the ban on non-essential trading © Alamy Stock Photo

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JD Sports has moved to appoint administrators for its Go Outdoors chain, putting more than 2,000 jobs at risk.

The FTSE 100 group announced on Monday that it had lodged a notice with the court to appoint administrators, giving it legal protection from creditors over the next 10 business days.

Go, which employs about 2,400 people in 67 stores in the UK, kept its shops closed for almost three months during the ban on non-essential trading due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Other high street chains including Monsoon and Cath Kidston have also appointed administrators during lockdown. Some brands, such as fashion chains Oasis and Warehouse, have failed to find buyers and will close their stores for good. Their online brands have been bought by rival Boohoo.

Over the past few years, JD Sports has bought a number of struggling businesses. It acquired Go Outdoors in 2016 and last year the brand contributed roughly half its outdoor gear sales. JD also owns two other well-known outdoor brands: Blacks Leisure and Millets.

Its purchase of sportswear chain Footasylum last year has run into a number of problems however.

The Competition and Markets Authority recently announced it would block the deal. JD chairman Peter Cowgill has accused Mike Ashley, owner of longtime rival Sports Direct, of “blatantly” furthering his own commercial interests after “the CMA has been taken in by the self-serving testimony of one notoriously vocal competitor”.

JD Sports is planning to appeal against the CMA’s ruling.

The company’s share price, which has dropped by more than a quarter since March, was down just over 2 per cent on Monday morning. It employs more than 30,000 people at 2,500 stores and is controlled by the private Pentland Group, which also owns brands such as Speedo and Ellesse.

The company’s shares slid further just over two weeks ago when it was revealed that Mr Cowgill had sold £13.3m in JD shares, retaining a 0.67 per cent stake.

Since the pandemic, it has temporarily cut the pay of its board and senior management team by “at least” 25 per cent, with Mr Cowgill taking a 75 per cent cut to his salary. Last year, Mr Cowgill received £1.7m in bonuses, giving him total pay of just over £2.5m.

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