JD Sports Fashion is showing rival Sports Direct how to do it: sales and profit have soared to record highs in the full year, with pre-tax profits leaping 45 per cent.
Sales at the group rose 20 per cent to £1.8bn in the year to 31 January, while profit before tax jumped to £131m. Profit before tax and exceptional items also leaped, up 57 per cent to £157m, while operating profit was up 56 per cent to £158m.
The figures were buoyed by JD's disposal of fast fashion outlet Bank, which made a £15.7m loss last year.
Dividends are up from 7.05p last year to 7.4p.
Total capital expenditure rose to £83.5m from £70.2m, with the retailer saying it would increase spend further in the current financial year "as the international rollout of JD continues to gain momentum".
JD Sports' share price was up 2.2 per cent on the news.
Why it's interesting
JD Sports' record year has been driven by solid underlying growth, with its sports fashion division growing like-for-likes by 10 per cent, while its outdoors arms appears to be stabilising thanks to new management. Sales in this arm were up to £155m from £139.9m the year before.
And it's also growing in new markets, as shown by its progress internationally, both in existing European countries and launching in new territories. Recent moves include opening its first store outside of Europe at Sunway Pyramid in Kuala Lumpur, as part of a newly formed venture with Stream Enterprise in Malaysia.
But the main reason these results are so interesting is that it comes at a time when direct rival Sports Direct appears to be heading in the opposite direction. Sports Direct has issued a profit warning and Mike Ashley has warned his firm is "in trouble" (although this was later "clarified" by the company), as it comes under continued pressure over its working practices. The fact that JD has performed so well suggests that it is not, as Sports Direct insisted in January, a problem with weather.
What JD Sports said
Peter Cowgill, executive chairman, said: "I am delighted to report that the Group has delivered another very strong set of results for the year to 30 January 2016 with the headline profit before tax and exceptional items increased by 57 per cent to £157.1m.
"Given that last year's result was a record for our Group then the performance in the year was very pleasing, further demonstrating the increasing influence of the JD fascia in the UK and beyond.
"We are encouraged by the continued positive trading across our core fascias in the year to date and the board continues to believe that the group is very well positioned for profitable growth."
More record results from JD are throwing Sports Direct's struggles into sharp relief.