'Athleisure' boom helps JD Sports to record-breaking profits

Fitness is in fashion...

'Athleisure' boom helps JD Sports to record-breaking profits

Beyoncé's new athleisure line Ivy Park is stocked at JD Sports

JD Sports has reported an 81% leap in group profit before tax last year, as the British retailer rides the current wave of athleisure wear popularity.

It enjoyed total pre-tax profits of £238 million in the year to January 28th, beating forecasts. Revenues were up 31% to £2.4 billion, with like-for-like sales climbing 10%.

The chain, which operates 27 stores on the island of Ireland, acknowledged the "positive influence" of the fashion trend when it came to sales, and noted that store upgrades had also spurred growth.

Executive chairman Peter Cowgill said:

"There is a market that has been favourable in terms of athleisure products, and we are in the best position to capitalise on it."

The company believes, however, that it is "unreasonable" to expect similar sales growth to be maintained at the current level. 

Shares hit an all-time high this morning, jumping 11.3% to £4.52 on the London Stock Exchange.

When it comes to future trading, "inflationary pressures arising from Brexit" were cited.

Picture by: Nick Potts/PA Wire/PA Images

Cowgill stated in the company's results:

"This has been another period of very significant progress for the Group with the headline profit before tax and exceptional items increased by 56% to £244.8 million (2016: £157.1 million).

"Over a three year period the result has improved by more than 190% which is an outstanding performance and provides the Group with a robust platform for further development.

"The foundation of this success remains our core Sports Fashion fascias where JD's continued strength in its core markets is increasingly being complemented by momentum in our international development, with a net increase of 54 JD stores across mainland Europe during the year."

Picture by: Nick Ansell/PA Wire/PA Images

Working conditions

JD Sports also took the opportunity to tackle the allegations of poor working conditions at its Rochdale distribution warehouse made in an undercover investigation by Channel 4 News last year.

The group said an internal probe by Deloitte had concluded that "the allegations did not represent a balanced characterisation of working practices". It added, however, that it would not be releasing the report due to "commercial sensitivities".