JD Sports rewarded for focus on millennials

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A focus on younger consumers has helped JD Sports to buck the retail gloom and report record results.

The sportswear retailer said pre-tax profits rose 15.4% to £339.9m in the year to 2 February, with revenues jumping 49.2% to £4.7bn.

Executive chairman Peter Cowgill told the BBC: “The business has stayed very much in tune with the millennials and Generation Z.

“This is in terms of providing customer experience and customer focus.”

The brand has expanded worldwide across Europe, Asia-Pacific and the US.

In Europe, it had a net increase of 39 stores. It opened 34 in the Asia-Pacific region and its first five in the US, including the conversion of four existing Finish Line stores after taking over the business last summer.

Mr Cowgill said: “We believe that our acquisition of the Finish Line business in the United States, the largest market for sport lifestyle footwear and apparel and the home to many of the global sportswear brands, will have positive consequences for our long-term brand engagement whilst significantly extending the group’s global reach.

“We maintain our belief that Finish Line is capable of delivering improved levels of profitability.”

He added: “We are pleased with the continued underlying positive performance of the group and are excited by the major developments ahead.”

In the past few weeks, JD has rescued Liam Gallagher’s fashion brand Pretty Green from administration and made a £90.1m offer to buy clothing and shoe retailer Footasylum.

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Liam Gallagher founded Pretty Green in 2009 and named it after a song by The Jam

Richard Lim, chief executive of Retail Economics, said: “These results show that standing out in a crowded market with exclusive products, a unique proposition and placing the experiences at the heart of the store is a winning formula in today’s digital age.”

He added: “Despite the challenging conditions on the High Street, retailers who continue to thrive are those that have embraced change, invested in digital and listened to their customers to keep products fresh and desirable.”

Julie Palmer, partner at Begbies Traynor, said that JD was making the most of “the current trainer trend among millennials”.

She added: “JD Sports must stay on the front foot and continue to offer a unique customer experience with competitive pricing in order to keep momentum and drive footfall into stores. Other retailers should take note and follow its lead or risk getting caught in the current and dragged under.”

Jane Sydenham, investment director at Rathbones, told the BBC’s Wake Up To Money programme: “They’re really focusing on their brands and making sure they have a tight focus on their products and really responding to what their customers actually want.

“So they’re not just trying to have as broad a range of products as possible at the cheapest price.”

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