JD Sports fashion sales gather pace

JD Sports Fashion has revealed another strong performance after sales growth accelerated in the eight weeks to the end of last month.

Maintaining its edge over rivals JJB Sports and Sports World, the group said like-for-like sales were now up by 1.7% in the financial year to date, compared with the rate of 0.3% seen in early April.

JD warned that margins were under pressure due to currency factors, but added it remained confident of meeting internal forecasts for the year to February.

In April, the firm announced a 9% rise in annual pre-tax profits to £38.2 million, marking the "fifth successive year of good progress".

JD Sports, which was founded in 1981 with one shop in Bury, has 400 outlets in the UK and Ireland covering both sports and branded fashion. It recently made its first move overseas with the acquisition of Lille-based Chausport, a sports footwear retailer with 78 stores.

The company has fared much better than its rivals, helped by its strong offering through fashion brands Scotts and Bank and its limited exposure to replica football kit sales.

JD said that while like-for-like sales in sports fascias were up 1.2%, the figure for its fashion stores showed growth of 4.6%.

Singer retail analyst Matthew McEachran said: "The weather over the period has probably given a slight boost to trade, with the performance across April and Easter outperforming May."

He added that JD should be boosted by next year's World Cup in South Africa, although not to the same degree as Sports Direct or JJB Sports.

Numis Securities said like-for-like sales at JD were likely to have risen by 3% in the last eight weeks, resulting in the 1.7% running total.