Executive chairman
JD Sports Fashion

What the sportswear sector certainly does not lack is straight-talking Northerners, and Cowgill is very much one of those. He may not have dominated the headlines as much as JJB Sports founder Dave Whelan or Sports Direct founder Mike Ashley, but there were rumours that Cowgill had been casting his beady eye over rival JJB as a potential acquisition opportunity if its turnaround had not been successful.

Cowgill can claim his standing as head of the best-performing retailer in the sports sector, with the business’s pre-tax profits up 9 per cent to £38.2m in its full year to January 31.

The no-nonsense Lancashire accountant has plenty of achievements to boast about this year, and with JD Sports’ acquisition of French sports chain Chausport in May of this year he now has the opportunity to prove JD’s prowess and brand skills to new markets.

Cowgill and this team have succeeded in establishing a clear niche fashion position and together with JD Sports chief executive Barry Bown’s knowledge of the relevant fashion brands, Cowgill should be able to continue driving JD’s growth.