JD results give retailers a real sporting chance

CLOTHING retailer JD Sports Fashion yesterday countered the gloom at rival JJB Sports by revealing it had maintained its rate of sales growth in recent weeks.

The sports and fashion retailer's like-for-like sales have marginally increased since an update in September showed growth of 2.8 per cent between February and 28 August.

The update is in contrast to JJB Sports, which last week reported that like-for-like sales had slowed in recent weeks despite a promotional blitz as part of its Serious About Sport turnaround strategy.

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JJB said that sales were lower than expected between late September and early November following a rise of 13.1 per cent on last year, when figures were impacted by stock problems.

Andrew Wade, an analyst at Numis Securities, said JD's strong sales, which were achieved without a reduction in gross margin, were partly due to its strong own brand range.

In the first half of the year JD acquired brands such as Sonneti, Chilli Pepper and Nanny State, which Wade said gave it a point of difference over competitors as well as a higher profit margin.

JD Sports delivered forecast-beating results in September after the retail chain increased half-year profits by 36 per cent to 19.3 million. The firm has 350 JD and Size outlets as well as 73 branches of sports shoe retailer Chausport in France.