Britain’s largest sportswear group raised its profit outlook for the full year to “no less than” £550m in a trading update today.
JD Sports said sales in the immediate period after lockdown reopening had been “particularly encouraging”.
Most of the fashion retailers 3,300 stores around the world are now open, bar some in the Asia Pacific region, though JD said “consistent with other retailers, store footfall remains fragile with online traffic at elevated level.”
The company raised its profit before tax forecast for the year to “no less than” £550m, up from its previous forecast in April of between £475m and £500m. This new expectation marks a significant increase from its £421.3m profits delivered in the last financial year.
JD Sports also announced that it intends to divide Peter Cowgill’s current role of Executive Chairman and CEO before the next Annual General Meeting, and it would begin a “comprehensive process” to improve governance to reflect its global positioning and higher stock market valuation.
The retailer’s share price gained 4.58 per cent in morning trading after the forecast was announced, making JD Sports one of the top risers on the FTSE 100 on Thursday morning.
JD Sports said that strong online sales during the periods when stores were closed, combined with a surge in sales immediately after stores reopened helped offset the negative financial impact of store closures.
But the group remained cautious and warned that the rise in Covid cases due to the Delta variant was affecting customer numbers more than it had seen before.
“The uncertainty surrounding COVID has not yet fully passed and the current resurgence in infection rates is affecting our core customer demographic more than was the case previously,” the group said in the trading update.
The retailer also cited the precarious Covid situation as the reason it will wait to decide when it will start repaying the government for the furlough payments it received when stores were closed until there is “certainty on both the full easing of restrictions and the consequences of any further lockdowns during our peak trading period this winter.”