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09th Feb 2021

Brexit “considerably worse” than expected, says JD Sports chairman


“The new system and red tape just slows down efficiency”

The chairman of JD Sports has admitted that Brexit has been “considerably worse” than he anticipated.

Peter Cowgill explained in an interview given to the BBC that new UK-EU trade regulations, which came into effect at the start of the year, and delays in shipping goods to Europe had seen additional costs which amounted to “double-digit millions” for the sports-fashion retailer.

Cowgill refuted the suggestion there was any true free trade with the EU after Brexit, saying that goods imported by JD from East Asia incur tariffs when they go to its stores across Europe.

“I actually think it was not properly thought out,” he said. “All the spin that was put on it about being free trade and free movement has not been the reality.

“The new system and red tape just slows down efficiency. The freedom of movement and obstacles are quite difficult at the moment. I don’t see that regulatory paperwork easing much in the short term.”

A likely outcome, he suggested, is that the company seek to open a new distribution centre somewhere in mainland Europe to get around the issues and lower the costs.

An EU-based facility would “make a lot of economic sense,” he said, and would likely create jobs for as many as 1,000 people – in Europe, not the UK.

JD Sports’ current warehouse is situated in Rochdale. While this is not expected to close, Cowgill did add that a new depot in Europe would result in the transfer of a number of jobs overseas.