Sellers of England replica football shirts were under pressure today after the national team’s slump to defeat in Russia.
The 2-1 loss yesterday virtually ends English hopes of qualifying for next summer’s European Championships and hit expectations of a surge in shirt sales in the run-up to the tournament.
Billionaire retailer Mike Ashley – owner of the Sports World chain and Newcastle United FC – saw shares in his Sports Direct International company fall more than 5% today following the result.
Rival chain JJB Sports fell 2%, while Umbro – the official maker of England kits – also slipped back 2% as worried investors digested the news.
The poor result follows a difficult period for sportswear firms, which have been hit by weak sales following the summer downpours. Shoppers have also been squeezed by five interest rate hikes.
Analysts rushed to lower profit forecasts for the trio this morning.
Numis Securities analyst Ramona Tipnis said: “England not qualifying will have a negative effect on not just Umbro’s share price but also that of Sports Direct and JJB.”
JJB, which is striving to reduce its dependency on tournament sales, has already seen its half-year profits more than halved to £8.3 million.
Umbro also warned last month that sales of England replica shirts during the critical summer trading period had been “disappointing” and lowered sales expectations for 2008.
Seymour Pierce analyst Andrew Wade said non-qualification would have a “significant impact” on this year’s and next year’s results.
England’s chances of qualification now hang by a thread. They must beat group leaders Croatia next month at Wembley and hope that Russia fail to beat Israel or minnows Andorra to stand any chance of reaching the finals.
The woes of the replica football shirt makers and sellers contrast with soaring sales of rugby shirts – made by Nike – following England’s surprise run to the World Cup final this Saturday.