JD Sports defies high street gloom with 'record' result

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JD Sports has defied high street gloom, reporting a 15% rise in pre-tax profit for the year.

Executive chairman Peter Cowgill said that the retailer of sports, fashion and outdoor brands had delivered a “record result” thanks to its “relentless focus” on providing a “compelling differentiated proposition to the consumer”.

Pre-tax profit was £339.9m in the year ending 2 February, compared with £294.5m the previous year.

The result comes as many high street names are struggling.

During the past week Debenhams has fallen into administration, LK Bennett announced a third of its stores would close and Monsoon Accessorize has made preliminary moves towards a Company Voluntary Arrangement (CVA).

Mr Cowgill said: “JD is not immune to the widely reported challenges to physical retail in the UK with lower footfall on many high streets, malls and retail parks combined with cost challenges from increasing minimum wage rates and rises in business rates.

“Therefore, it is very pleasing that the core UK and Ireland Sports Fashion fascias, the most mature part of our group, have delivered a further increase in sales and profitability.

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“This helps maintain our belief that the store base at its current scale continues to provide a positive influence on our future development as it raises brand awareness, provides consumers with an opportunity to physically see and try the product, and enables us to provide multiple delivery points.”

Image: Peter Cowgill said JD Sports was ‘not immune’ from high street challenges

JD Sports said it had increased its store count by 39 across Europe and a further 34 stores had opened in the Asia Pacific region. In the previous year 56 stores were opened in Europe and nine in Asia/Pacific.

Its acquisition of Finish Line in the US had also “significantly” extended its global reach and was “delivering encouraging early results”, Mr Cowgill said.

He also said the group was confident about the future, despite Brexit uncertainty.

“While we recognise that there is uncertainty surrounding the nature and timing of the UK’s exit from the European Union, we are cognisant of the potential consequences of a disorderly exit on supply chains, tariffs, exchange rates and consumer demand,” he said.

“Notwithstanding this uncertainty, the board remains confident in the international potential of the JD proposition.”

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