SPORTS DIRECT has shrugged-off any signs of gloom on the high street after posting a 23 per cent rise in third quarter profit yesterday.
The sports retailer, controlled by Newcastle United owner Mike Ashley, said group sales for the 13 weeks to 27 January rose 21 per cent to £589.5m, driven by strong growth in its sports stores, where sales rose 21 per cent to £495.8m.
This excludes revenues from the 20 JJB stores it bought last year after its rival collapsed into administration.
The group, which owns Lilywhites as well as the Dunlop and Slazenger brands, has benefited from the demise of its competitors, a growing online presence and a highly motivated staff due to a lucrative bonus scheme.
Gross profits increased 22.7 per cent to £244.8m and chief executive Dave Forsey said it was certain of reaching its full-year earnings target of £270m.
“As we highlighted back in December, the group’s strong performance continued during the third quarter, primarily driven by our sports retail division, including online following the successful integration of our new operating platform,” Forsey said in a statement.
Shares have soared 43 per cent since last year and closed 5.7 per cent higher yesterday at 440p.
In September the firm said it wanted to reintroduce a “super-stretch” bonus scheme to award Ashley 10m shares if performance targets were met after shareholders revolted against a similar proposal in September.
The group will put the revised bonus plan to shareholders at its next annual general meeting this year.