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JD Sports says cross-channel theatre helps deliver record results

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JD Sports says that bringing theatre into retail, both online and in-stores, lay behind record full-year figures reported today.

The retailer, ranked Leading in IRUK Top500 research, today reported revenue of £4.7bn in the year to February 2 2019. That’s a rise of 49.2%, compared to the previous year. Profits before tax and exceptional items grew by 16% to £355.2m, but one-off costs, including £29.4m from the newly combined Finish Line and JD business in the US for the 33 weeks following its acquisition, meant that bottom line pre-tax profits came in at £339.9m – 15.4% up on last time.

Like-for-like sales grew by more than 6% around the word, against “a backdrop of widely reported retail challenges in the group’s core UK market.”

JD Sports executive chairman Peter Cowgill said that the record result had been achieved “with a relentless focus on ensuring that, at all times, we provide a compelling differentiated proposition to the consumer with an attention-grabbing theatre both in stores and online. Consumers expect our product and brand mix to be emotionally engaging, exclusive and continually evolving with high levels of social media penetration and an increasing pace of technology adoption across our core demographic, ensuring that new styles and trends spread rapidly across a wide geography.”

It said that its core UK and Ireland sports fashion fascias had seen sales and profitabllity increase – but that its wider UK business had “not been immune” to the lower footfall, higher business rates and minimum wages currently affecting the UK retail market. As well as operating in the sports fashion business, the retailer’s “weather challenged” outdoors division includes Go Outdoors, whose business is currently moving onto the group’s primary ERP system, a project expected to complete later in the first half. Fulfillment for Go Outdoors’ stores and website is expected to start shortly from a new dedicated warehouse in Middlewich, while the Blacks and Millets businesses are also expected to transfer into the facility during the second half of the current year. During the year, said JD Sports, the outdoor businesses delivered a “marginally positive” like-for-like sales figure, including online but that profit margins had reduced to achieve this – by 1% to 42.5%. 

Cowgill said: “We firmly believe that the elevated and dynamic multibrand multichannel proposition of the core JD fascia, which enjoys the ongoing support of the key international brands, has the necessary agility to continue to exceed consumer expectations and prosper in an increasing number of international markets.

“We believe that our acquisition of the Finish Line business in the United States, the largest market for sport lifestyle footwear and apparel and the home to many of the global sportswear brands, will have positive consequences for our long-term brand engagement whilst significantly extending the Group’s global reach. We maintain our belief that Finish Line is capable of delivering improved levels of profitability.”

Since the year-end, the retailer has also bought both Footasylum and Pretty Green, the latter out of administration. 

Image: Screenshot of JD Sports website/InternetRetailing Media

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