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Jan 10, 2014
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JD Sports on track for full-year after good Christmas

By
Reuters
Published
Jan 10, 2014

LONDON, England - British retailer JD Sports Fashion said it was on track to meet full-year profit forecasts after a strong Christmas for its sports stores helped boost trading.

The group on Friday said like-for-like sales for the 48 weeks to Jan. 4 at UK and Ireland sports and fashion stores were "marginally ahead" of the 5.8 percent growth it had guided to in November after 42 weeks of trading, with gross margins maintained.

Its sports unit, which competes with Sports Direct selling clothing and footwear from brands like Nike and Adidas as well as own brands, had performed particularly well, the firm said, while trading at its smaller fashion business had been weaker and its outdoor arm improved as winter weather worsened.

The group did not run discounts in the run-up to Christmas, unlike many British retailers including Debenhams and Mothercare which did and subsequently had to warn on profits due to the hit on margins.

Chairman Peter Cowgill said he expected improving product ranges to deliver a "significant uplift" to its Banks Fashion arm in 2014, adding he was optimistic its loss-making outdoor division would break even in the second half to end-Jan.

To improve the fortunes of its Blacks and Millets outdoor chains, bought from administrators for 20 million pounds two years ago, the firm has hired new management, refurbished stores, improved online and relocated its warehouse operations.

JD Sports, which has the majority of some 850 stores in Britain with others trading in the Netherlands, Spain, France and Germany, said the group was on course to meet profit forecasts.

The firm, whose shares have more than doubled on a year ago, is on average expected to post a full-year pretax profit of 70.52 million pounds ($116.10 million), according to Reuters data, up 17 percent on a year ago.

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