James Moore: JD's serious take on sport sounds familiar

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The Independent Online

Outlook It hasn't exactly been plain sailing for JD Sports Fashion but yesterday the retailer handed its shareholders a little bit of pre-Christmas cheer with some respectable sales growth that might keep the doubters quiet for a while.

What didn't look quite so good was the way those numbers broke down. "Sports" outlets contributed a rise in sales of 3.5 per cent but the overall tally was only 1.5 per cent up because the bottom fell out of the "fashion" stores, which aren't proving very fashionable with customers.

Perhaps it was with a nod to this that the company is trialling a new sports outlet called JD Pro, which is aimed at well-heeled fitness fanatics looking for running and football gear mainly, but with other sports such as rugby, cricket, and golf catered for too.

In other words, with its fashion fascias failing JD is trying to tell us that it is, well, "serious about sport". Which, if you'll remember, was what rival JJB used to insist it was during one of its interminable relaunches before it gave up the ghost and fell into administration.