JD Sports seeks “rental realism” as Covid-19 impacts footfall

JD Sports Peter Cowgill administration reopening
JD Sports said customers have been nervous about coming back into some stores after reopening
// JD Sports sales rise 30% to £6.11 billion in the year ending February 1
// Pre-tax profit rose 3% to £348.5 million over the year

JD Sports has seen its sales and profits rise and now expects the growth to continue despite the impact of Covid-19.

The sportswear retailer reported a sales growth of 30 per cent to £6.11 billion in the year ending February 1, before the lockdown was implemented.

Like-for-likes advanced approximately 10 per cent in JD’s core UK and Ireland business.


Meanwhile, pre-tax profit rose three per cent to £348.5 million over the year.

JD, which last month put its Go Outdoors business through a pre-pack administration, called for “rental realism” as the pandemic continues to affect trading.

The retailer had announced the appointment of Michael Magnay and Daniel Butters of Deloitte LLP as joint administrators for its Go Outdoors business, before buying it back in a pre-pack deal for £56.5 million.

Citing the impact of Covid-19 closures, as well as “extremely inflexible” terms on its property leases, JD Sports said that the “the future viability of the business has become materially uncertain”.

Moreover, JD Sports said customers have been nervous about coming back into some stores as it reopened the majority of its shops last month.

It said footfall had been particularly hard hit at its Northern European shopping centres at weekends as customers worried about the risks of densely occupied enclosed spaces.

“Whilst Covid-19 has constrained our short-term progress, it is important that we do not lose sight of the core retail standards and commercial disciplines which have underpinned our longer-term growth to date,” JD Sports chief executive Peter Cowgill said.

“JD has a market-leading multi-channel proposition which maximises its consumer relevance and reach by creating, and then maintaining, a deep emotional connection with its consumers who see JD as an authoritative and trustworthy source of style and fashion inspiration with influences drawn from both sport and music,” he said.

“We were encouraged by the continued positive trading in the early weeks of the year prior to the emergence of Covid-19 and we firmly believe that we are well placed to regain our previous momentum.

“Looking longer term, there is inevitably considerable uncertainty as to what the effect of Covid-19 will be on consumer behaviour and footfall with future store investments highly dependent on rental realism and lease flexibility.

“Ultimately, however, we remain confident that we have a market-leading multi-channel proposition which has the necessary flexibility and agility to prosper within a retail environment that may see profound and permanent structural change.”

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