The group’s chief executive said its key customers - trendy young adults - are more likely to have jobs and are therefore more cushioned from the impact of rising living costs. The sports clothing and trainers chain, which also has a controlling stake in Scottish outdoor retailer Tiso, reported a profit before tax and adjusted items of £991 million for the year to the end of January, compared with £947m the prior year, which it said was a record result. Revenues jumped above £10bn for the first time, up from £8.6bn the prior year.
Chief executive Regis Schultz, who took the top job in September last year after the departure of Peter Cowgill, said sales volumes grew while average prices across its products were between 5 per cent and 10 per cent higher than the previous year. Schultz said: “Our key target customer is the young adult, and the young adult all over the world is benefiting from low unemployment, and I think that is driving the morale and the revenue of our key customer.”
He also said he “embraces competition” from rival retailers, such as H&M and Asos expanding their sportswear ranges, adding that JD is growing online where others are not. Last month, JD outlined ambitious growth plans to open up to 350 shops globally each year, focused in North America and continental Europe.
However, including costs such as from the group’s previous acquisitions, its pre-tax profit declined by more than £200m to £441m over the year. JD said it was encouraged by the resilient nature of consumer demand but remains “conscious of the headwinds that prevail” including global economic and political concerns.
AJ Bell investment director Russ Mould said: “After a storming start to the year, JD Sports’ share price has slowed to a jog and despite reporting a record annual profit of near £1bn, there was little to get the stock moving upwards in [these] results. True, the company does expect to exceed the £1bn mark in terms of profit in the current financial year but, beyond this arbitrary milestone, JD still has work to do and considerable sums to spend to meet its ambitious goals for growth.”
Mark Crouch, an analyst at social investing network eToro, noted: “Currently, JD Sports is one of the shining lights of the retail sector, which is having to fight hard for every coin in people’s pockets at the moment.”
Andrew Higginson, JD’s chairman, added: “This is a record result for the group and I must pay tribute to the skills, resilience and positive attitude of the colleagues in our businesses who have not let the leadership changes distract from their focus on the consumer and our offer. Whilst we are encouraged by the resilient nature of the consumer demand in the current period to date, we remain conscious of the headwinds that prevail at this time including the general global macro-economic and geopolitical situation.”