The owner of JD Sports delivered some rare good news from the high street today after half-year profits jumped 71% and sales remained strong.
JD Sports Fashion, which trades from 430 sites, said it was delighted its performance following a profits haul of £9.1m (€11.4m) for the six months to August 2.
Like-for-like sales were 6% higher, with the figure 5.8% stronger when including the subsequent six weeks of the trading year.
While JD faces tougher comparatives and challenging trading conditions in the months ahead, executive chairman Peter Cowgill said JD was “strongly positioned” to deliver on current market expectations.
JD has fared better than rivals such as Umbro and Sports World owner Sports Direct because of its own-brand offering and its reduced reliance on replica football kit sales.
The group has also boosted its sports business over the past four years by eliminating underperforming stores and reducing excess stock levels.
The company has also undertaken a refurbishment programme, with 37 sports sites due to be improved in the current year at an estimated cost of £12.2m (€15.3m).
JD said: “We expect this programme will continue next year and until we have achieved a consistent quality, look and feel for all of our stores.”
It also opened nine new sports stores in the half year and expects several more to be added by the year end. The sports business traded from 345 stores at the end of the half-year, with fashion brands Bank and Scotts at 85 sites.
The company said results from the fashion stores were improving and that it expected operating profitability to be achieved in the current year.
JD was founded in 1981 with one shop in Bury and expanded throughout the North and Midlands during the 1980s before opening its first store in Oxford Street in 1989. The group floated on the stock market in 1996.