Profits jump at JD Sports on sales rise

JD Sports yesterday shrugged off the gloom, reporting an 11 per cent rise in profits, despite the consumer downturn battering the high street.<br /><br />The group said profits rose to &pound;10.1m in the six months to 1 August, boosted by a jump in sales.<br /><br />JD Sports said that group total sales were up by 8.4 per cent to &pound;324m, with like-for-like sales rising by 0.7 per cent. The group said in the last six weeks like-for-like sales have lifted by 0.8 per cent. <br /><br />Shares in JD, 57 per cent of which are owned by sportswear company Pentland, have doubled in value in the past six months, outperforming all of its rivals.<br /><br />The group said its fashion ranges had reduced losses from &pound;3.3m to &pound;2.5m the year before, while its sportswear division reported improved profitability.<br /><br />Many UK retailers have struggled over the last year as consumers cut back spending amid an anaemic property market and rising unemployment. But JD has bucked this trend, benefiting from its blend of sports and fashion brands and its strong relationship with brands such as Nike and Adidas.<br /><br />Executive chairman Peter Cowgill yesterday said the robust results meant the group was on the hunt for acquisitions.<br /><br />Cowgill said: &ldquo;If the right deal comes along then we take advantage of it.&rdquo;<br /><br />The company has already made three acquisitions in the past six months -- rugby brands Canterbury Europe and Kooga, and French sports footwear retailer Chausport.<br /><br />Cowgill said that under normal circumstances JD would concentrate on developing these purchases. However, given the firm ended the half with net cash of &pound;6m it was prudent to take advantage of cut-price opportunities the recession has delivered.<br /><br />The group yesterday raised its dividend pay out by 6.5 per cent to 3.3p.<br />