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JD Sports raises profit expectations as its customers shift to omnichannel shopping

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JD Sports says its customers “readily switched” between stores and digital over the autumn and Christmas – so much so that total sales for the 22 weeks to January 2 were more than 5% ahead of the same time last year. 

Today the sports fashion business, ranked Leading in RXUK Top500 research, says it now expects pre-tax profits for the year to January 30 to come in at at least £400m – significantly ahead of market expectations of about £295m. 

The retailer predicts that Covid-19 operational restrictions will be key factor for the business through “at least” the first quarter of the year to January 29. It says in a trading update today: “Whilst we are confident that we have the proposition to continue to attract consumers throughout this period, the process to scale down activity in stores and scale up the digital channels, often at extremely short notice, presents significant challenges. We are indebted to all our colleagues in our different territories who have had to adopt new ways of working.”

Under normal circumstances, it says, it would expect results for the year to January 29 2022 to show a strong improvement on the current year. But its current best estimate for the year – in the light of likely closures at least until Easter in the UK and at any time in other countries – is that headline pretax profit will be five to 10% ahead of the current year. 

Today’s update suggests that JD Sports has seen a good recovery in the second half of its financial year, during a strong peak trading season in which shoppers turned further online to buy. It follows a first half in which the retailer reported revenues of £2.5bn in the 26 weeks to August 1 – 6.5% lower than a year earlier. Sales fell at both its sports fashion business (-4.6%) and at its outdoor business (-30.2%), which include Go Outdoors, Blacks and Millets as non-essential shops were forced to close for 12 weeks. First half pre-tax profits of £61.9m were down by 61% on the previous year. 

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