Sports Direct profit slips from 2010 World Cup high

Mike Ashley’s Sports Direct retailer saw profits slip nearly six per cent in the quarter to July 25 compared with a year ago, but still expects to meet its full year earnings target.

Sports Direct said total sales rose 0.5 per cent to £410m while retail-only sales were up 0.8 per cent to £368m compared with summer 2010, narrowly topping the sales boost caused by the World Cup last year.

Gross profit was 5.7 per cent lower than 2010,at £174m, it said in a trading update, but emphasised the impact the World Cup had had on its performance a year ago.

“These results are against tough comparatives as the FIFA World Cup was taking place in the same period last year. This is illustrated by the UK Retail like-for-like gross contribution for one week decreasing by 40.2 per cent,” Sports Direct said.

The sports clothing chain opened nine new core UK retail shops in the quarter, and three new non-core stores, while closing eight shops in the same period.

Its European arm opened four new shops in France, the Netherlands and Cyprus.

Chief executive Dave Forsey said the performance was in line with expectations and the group was “continuing to invest in margin, inventory and extra group marketing.”