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Sports Direct and Halfords report growing ecommerce sales - but at Mothercare online remains subdued

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Sports Direct saw online sales grow by 82% in a year in which its turnover broke records.

Internet transactions grew by 81.8% to £174.0m in the 53 weeks to April 29, from £95.7m in the previous year, the company said today. Ecommerce accounted for 11.6% of all its sport retail sales in the period, up from 7% in the previous year. Sports Direct said the website’s name recognition had increased thanks to the 351 UK stores now branded Sportsdirect.com, and that, “we remain focused on developing this revenue stream further.”

The multichannel sports equipment and fashion retailer reported 13% growth in revenue to £1.8bn, while pre-tax profits rose by 24.5% to £151.5m. “Our position as the consumers’ champion, offering an unrivalled depth and breadth of product choice at the best available prices, delivered a record sports retail performance,” said its chief executive Dave Forsey. “We achieved record revenues and growth across all divisions.”

He said multichannel was proving a successful formula for Sports Direct. “Critically, our online sales benefit from our UK market leading position on the high street and from our established systems and processes, while our retail stores continue to perform strongly,” he said.

Meanwhile, Halfords Group reported in a first-quarter interim management statement a 13% growth in online sales that bucked an overall 5.2% fall in turnover. Revenue from retail sales fell by 7.8% in the 13 weeks to June 29, while autocentres saw their turnover rise by 14.5%. Against this background, the company announced the departure of chief executive David Wild.

Dennis Millard, interim executive chairman, said: "The consumer environment remains difficult and the unseasonal weather conditions this quarter had a direct impact on sales of cycles and outdoor leisure products. In this challenging economic environment the management team will be focused on maximising our trading performance and cash generation, prudent cost management and delivering the longer-term strategy.”

At Mothercare, also publishing a first-quarter interim management statement, online direct in home sales were down by 7.1% against a background of group sales down by 4.4% and UK sales down by 10.2%. Chairan Alan Parker said international growth of 11% had offset “weaker” UK trading.

He also detected the first signs of growth for the Mothercare website, part of the company’s transformation programme. “We moved our Mothercare website to a new platform in May,” said Parker, “and, whilst this resulted in significant disruption during the transfer process, recent performance has been very encouraging with positive sales growth in the last five weeks.”

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