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The role of multichannel in JD Sports’ fast growing sales and profits

JD Sports today reported full-year revenue of £2.4bn in the year to January 28, 31% up on a year earlier, while pre-tax profits, before one-off costs, of £244.8m, were 56% up on the previous year. Pre-tax profits after exceptional items were 81% up on last time. That takes profits at the retailer, which owns brands including Blacks, Millets and Go Outdoors, up by more than 190% over the last three years. We took a look at what the full-year statement said about multichannel strategies at JD Sports, a Top50 retailer in IRUK Top500 research.

The multichannel advantage

Executive chairman Peter Cowgill said in his overview: “We firmly believe that our approach of presenting a unique and often exclusive sports and fashion premium brand offer in a truly multichannel environment, where innovative digital technology is integrated into a vibrant retail theatre, continues to increase the attractiveness and desirability of our product ranges. These factors provide our stores with a real point of difference for both consumers and our branded supplier partners.”

Customer engagement

Cowgill says a multichannel approach is important for a JD Sports customer base that is “extremely digitally aware with a high propensity to use social media in their purchasing decisions.” He added: “Consequently we continue to invest heavily in creating a technology-rich multichannel environment which not only provides the customer with information about the product but helps increase the desire to purchase. This digitally integrated approach gives positive benefits to our stores as well as our trading websites, with online sales now representing 13.2% of total fascia sales in JD’s principal UK and Ireland market. Overall JD Sports sales rose by 50% to £245m, with like-for-like growth on European fascias up by more than 10%, year-on-year.

During the year JD Sports bought Go Outdoors for £112.3m. Go Outdoors trades online and through 58 UK stores. JD says that Go Outdoors had expertise in consumer engagement through its membership scheme, which could be exploited further by drawing on its own expertise in multichannel retail.

International strategy

Cowgill says that the brand is focused on international expansion, despite the UK’s vote to leave the European Union which he anticipates will mean “some uncertainties for the immediately foreseeable future”. During the year it opened, net, 54 JD stores in Europe, and two stores in Malaysia. Another Malaysian store is due to open this year, as is the retailer’s first in Australia.

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