Insights

The future of retail with Peter Cowgill

October 29, 2015

An unassuming and humble man, the Chairman of JD Sports was at the centre of a candid look into the history of the company and the future of the industry.

Last week Valtech and Mortimer Spinks were lucky enough to have the company of Peter Cowgill, Executive Chairman of JD Sports, for one night at the Ham Yard hotel in Soho. The event was part of Valtech’s Future of Retail series which runs in parallel to our partnership with Wired Retail.

Peter joined us for a discussion of topics ranging from his own history, that of JD Sports and the future of the retail industry. While we established early on that the evening would be under “Chatham House” rules, we’re delighted to share some slivers of insight from the man himself.

The numbers: 800+ stores, 3.2 million square feet of space, £100m profit, 4 gyms, 10m pairs of trainers sold

Peter was, in his words, “born in a caravan.” These humble beginnings served as motivation throughout his life and his intense drive for personal success led to his completion of his chartered accountancy course in exactly the minimum timeframe. He said he had always been good with numbers, and after working in a boutique in his early career marrying finance and retail experience seemed an inevitability.

Peter went on to answer questions from the audience on how digital has had a huge impact on his organisation, his acquisition strategies, competitive rivalries and plans for growth. While we wouldn't go against the rules of Chatham House, needless to say the insight he provided will stay with the audience for quite some time. We all learned a lot.

He’s never counted his chickens and his reluctance to take part in evenings like this cannot be understated. His reasoning? He never wants to tempt fate. Valtech and Mortimer Spinks were very lucky to have him on board at this event.

Valtech and Mortimer Spinks are set to run a series of Future of Retailing events over the course of next year and with speakers all of a similar calibre to Peter, you should be sure not to miss out. To stay in touch and keep abreast of everything that’s coming up, send me an email jack.stevens@valtech.co.uk and you’ll be the first to know!

Or join us for Wired Retail in London on November 23.