Record profits for JD Sports Fashion

A JD Sports store in London's Oxford Street.

A JD Sports store in London's Oxford Street. - Credit: PA

Retailer JD Sports Fashion hailed record annual results today as demand for branded trainers helped profits hit £100million for the first time.

The group said pre-tax profits before exceptional items on continuing operations were up 22% for the year to the end of January. Like-for-like sales for its main sports fashion outlets were up 13% with “positive momentum in all of the territories in which we operate”, the group said.

This was “driven by a buoyant market for branded athletic footwear across western Europe and an excellent buying and merchandising performance”, it added.

However, outdoor chains Blacks and Millets continued to struggle, although operating losses in the division narrowed.

Executive chairman Peter Cowgill said: “I am delighted to report that our continuing operations have delivered a record result for the year with a headline profit before tax and exceptional items in excess of £100m for the first time.

“This result and its ingredients provide a robust platform for further profitable growth, at home and internationally.

“This result has been driven by an outstanding performance in our sports fashion fascias where JD’s unique and often exclusive sports and fashion premium brand offer continues to enthuse and excite both customers and suppliers.”

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He said the group was “well-positioned to exploit successfully the opportunities that exist for continued profitable growth”. The final dividend will increase by 4.2% to 5.9p.

The business had 660 sports fashion stores at the end of the financial year, including 351 JD Sports outlets in the UK and Ireland. A new store will open in Oxford Street later in the year. There are 184 outdoor stores.

Expansion in Europe continued with 19 new stores for JD and the Size? chain, taking the number on the continent to 70.

JD’s outdoor division reduced operating losses from £8m to £4.9m.

An “encouraging improvement” in the first half at Blacks and Millets was followed by weaker sales of autumn and winter ranges in the second half “during a particularly mild and dry season”, followed by heavy discounting.

The year also saw JD dispose of its loss-making Bank fashion chain in November, which two months later went into administration. The disposal resulted in a pre-tax exceptional hit to the group of £6.3m. Bank’s results were treated as discontinued operations, with a loss of £15.8m.