LONDON Oct 23 Britain's biggest sporting goods
retailer Sports Direct posted a 15 percent jump in
second quarter sales and said strong trading since left it
confident of hitting its profit target.
In its first trading update since entering the FTSE 100
Index last month, the firm said on Wednesday group total sales
in the 9 weeks to Sept. 29 had jumped to 463.7 million pounds
($752 million), with gross profit up 19.4 percent to 199.8
Sports Direct, which has 400 UK stores and owns brands such
as Slazenger and Dunlop, has grown rapidly during the downturn,
thanks partly to the demise of rival JJB Sports, as well as
acquisitions and growing online sales. It now wants a greater
presence across Europe where it operates in 19 countries.
Second quarter sports retail sales rose 14.8 percent and
jumped 75 percent in its smaller premium lifestyle unit, boosted
by the impact of fashion retailer Republic, which it bought in
The firm, which had already posted an 18 percent rise in
first quarter group sales, said it was confident of reaching its
target of underlying earnings before interest, tax, depreciation
and amortisation (EBITDA) of 310 million pounds for 2013-14,
before a charge for bonus share schemes.
While many British retailers remain wary about the outlook
for their businesses, a report out this month from market
research specialist Verdict forecasts the sector will enjoy
their best growth in Christmas sales since 2007, with consumers
expected to spend at least 2 billion pounds more than in 2012.
Improving consumer confidence and job creation, and a
pick-up in the housing market were some of the reasons cited by
Verdict, which also said a baby boom during the recession meant
there are more children to buy presents for.
Shares in Sports Direct, controlled by billionaire Newcastle
United soccer club owner Mike Ashley, closed at 706.5 pence on
Tuesday, up 72 percent on a year ago, valuing the firm at around
4.2 billion pounds.