Belfast Telegraph

Sports retailer scores big sales rise

Mike Ashley's sportswear empire rolled out more eye-catching sales figures yesterday ahead of its expected promotion to the City's premier league.

Sports Direct International, in which the Newcastle United owner has a 64% stake, posted sales of £613.3m for the 13 weeks to July 28, a rise of 18.2% on a year ago and resulting in a 23.2% jump in profits to £260m.

The company, which held its AGM yesterday, is set to join the FTSE 100 Index later this month after a 70% jump in its share price in 2013, giving it a stock market value of around £4.3bn.

Sports Direct's promotion, which is due to be confirmed by the FTSE Group last night, follows impressive trading as it benefits from ongoing investment, the demise of rival JJB Sports and a recovering retail sector.

There has also been the positive impact from the company's bonus scheme, which recently rewarded around 2,000 staff with shares worth around £68,000.

In July, it reported a 40% leap in pre-tax profits to £207.2m for the year to April 28 and said the new financial year had got off to a strong start.

This was confirmed in yesterday's figures, with sales from its core sports retail estate up 14.5% to £505.3m and gross profit ahead 20% to £215.6m. Sales from brands such as Dunlop, Karrimor and Slazenger increased by 4.3% to £50.9m, leading to a rise in gross profit of 7% to £21.3m.

Sports Direct shares made their debut at 300p at the end of February 2007, but plunged to just 32p in the following year in a bumpy start to life as a public company. They now stand at 727.5p.

Retail analyst Nick Bubb said: "Even England's lacklustre performance in the World Cup qualifier should not spoil Mike Ashley's mood at this stage."

Sports Direct has around 400 UK stores and operations in 19 countries in Europe.

£260.1m

Sports Direct posted a 23.2% jump in profits for last quarter

Belfast Telegraph

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