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Sports Direct’s online sales rise by 97%

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Online sales came close to doubling over the last year at sports retailer Sports Direct after the company invested in raising awareness of its ecommerce channel.

Releasing its full-year results to April 24, the company said online revenue had risen by 97%, from £48.6m to £95.7m, and now represents 7.7% of its total UK retail sales, up from 4.5% in 2010.

Sports Direct said website sales and traffic had benefited from increased recognition of its online brands. Some 331 of its UK stores are now branded while the company also ran its first TV advertising campaigns during the year, boosting web traffic as a result.

For the future, Sports Direct said it would focus on further development of the online channel. Both its ecommerce technology and fulfillment are developed in-house, with support from Sports Direct’s national distribution centre in Derbyshire.

Online sales also grew online ahead of the FIFA World Cup, the first one the online store has seen, though as the England team performed poorly sales declined during the course of the tournament.

Across the group, UK sales rose by 11.3% to £1.245bn, from £1.118bn last time, and were up by 6.6% on a like-for-like basis. Total revenues rose by 10.3% to £1.599bn. Underlying pre-tax profits, before exceptional costs, rose by 32.7% to £135.5m, but at the bottom line pre-tax profits were down by 0.6% at £118.8m. The company also reduced its net debt by 52.3% to £148.9m.

Other highlights included continuing international expansion, with seven new stores opened in Europe.

Dave Forsey, chief executive, said: “This has been an excellent year of growth for the group in what has been a challenging retail environment. The strength of our business model means we are very well positioned for the challenges and targets for the future.”

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