JD Sports Sees Air Force Ones, Gazelle Sneakers Driving Profits Higher


British sportswear retailer JD Sports Fashion said it was on track to post higher annual profit as demand for Nike Air Force One and Adidas Gazelle and Samba footwear pushed up first-half underlying sales, lifting the company’s shares 7.5 percent.

The group, already the UK’s biggest sportswear retailer and with an expanding presence in North America and Europe, said group underlying sales rose 12 percent in the period, driven by European growth of 27 percent and North American growth of 15 percent.

JD highlighted its strong relationship with Nike, Adidas and other brands like New Balance, which gives it sometimes unique and early access to certain products, helping it outperform rivals.

In North America, Foot Locker and Dick’s Sporting Goods have warned of the impact of frail consumer demand and weaker margins, but Peel Hunt analysts said JD’s results showed “the U.S. shopper is there for the right product.”

JD Sports chief executive Régis Schultz said the company was Nike’s biggest global retail partner and its relationships with brands would continue to drive growth in the more casual post-pandemic environment, and where consumers wanted to treat themselves despite the tough economic outlook.

“I think customers are really looking at expanding their wardrobe in terms of sneaker,” he told reporters on Thursday.

“I think that it’s a very affordable luxury to change sneaker every day.”

JD has said that it has been less impacted by the last two years of high inflation as its typically younger customers have kept spending, and it was their parents who have been hit by the higher bills.

The group is aiming to spend up to £3 billion to open 1,750 stores over five years and become a global athletic leisurewear “powerhouse”. This year, it has said it would buy France’s Groupe Courir and bought out partners in its Iberian and Polish business

For the 12 months to the end of January, JD said it was on track to post an annual pretax profit of £1.04 billion ($1.28 billion), up 5 percent on last year.

By Sarah Young

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