JD Sports sales show ‘ath­leisure’ still has legs

The Daily Telegraph - Business - - Front Page - By Ash­ley Arm­strong

JD SPORTS has de­clared that re­ports of the death of ath­leisure have been greatly ex­ag­ger­ated af­ter the sports­wear re­tailer re­ported a 41pc jump in sales and boosted profit ex­pec­ta­tions to the top of fore­casts.

In­vestors in the £3.6bn re­tailer had been spooked by a sharp drop in sales at US ri­val Foot Locker last month which had prompted some an­a­lysts to de­clare the abrupt halt in sales growth was a sure sign that “ath­leisure is over”.

Ath­leisure – a term given to de­scribe the blur­ring be­tween fashion and sports­wear – has been a boom­ing trend that has fu­elled growth at JD Sports and sparked a num­ber of tra­di­tional re­tail­ers to launch their own ranges. Peter Cowgill, ex­ec­u­tive chair­man of JD Sports, said that there were no signs that de­mand was fad­ing and shrugged off the com­par­isons be­tween the com­pany and Foot Locker. “I don’t think this is neg­a­tive for the long term at all,” Mr Cowgill said. “Like us, Foot Locker has had 15 un­bro­ken quar­ters of sales growth so they are en­ti­tled to have a cig­a­rette break. Given that, it makes our re­sults even more pleas­ing.”

It said that af­ter up­beat sales it now ex­pects prof­its for the full year to be at the top of an­a­lysts’ fore­casts at £290m.

JD Sports re­ported a 41pc rocket in sales to £1.3bn dur­ing the six months to the end of July while pre-tax prof­its soared by a third to a record £102.7m.

Sales were also boosted by the open­ing of 35 new JD Sports shops dur­ing the pe­riod and the firm plans to open one new shop a week across Europe.

“In­ter­na­tional ex­pan­sion is sen­si­ble con­sid­er­ing it is reach­ing ma­tu­rity in the UK,” said Fiona Pa­ton, retail an­a­lyst at Global Data. Shares jumped by 30.8p, or 9pc, to close at 373.4p on the back of the strong re­sults.

Peter Cowgill, JD Sports ex­ec­u­tive chair­man, said Foot Locker’s stum­ble made his firm’s re­sults more pleas­ing

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