JD Sports sales show ‘athleisure’ still has legs
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