Sports Direct bets on World Cup boost for sale of England shirts

Sportswear retailer raises forecasts despite tough times for the high street

The sportswear retailer Sports Direct vowed yesterday not to be beaten on the price of England shirts next year, as it posted a 41 per cent drop in half-year pre-tax profits after taking a hit on exchange rate fluctuations.

The chain founded by Mike Ashley, who owns Newcastle United football club, saw its sales rise in the six months to 25 October. Yesterday, it raised its underlying earnings forecast for the year.

Sports Direct expects to get a boost from sales of England shirts next year and has promised to maintain its low-price strategy on tops and World Cup- related products for the tournament that kicks off in South Africa in June.

Dave Forsey, the chief executive of Sports Direct, said: "We will have the broadest and best value – that has always been our strategy. There is a massive range of associated products over all the price points."

Mr Forsey forecast a "tough" start to the new year for the wider retail sector but said: "We are lucky to have the new England away shirt [being released] in March and the World Cup as a catalyst [for 2010]." It is unclear if the likes of Asda and Tesco will be able to sell official England shirts next year.

Sports Direct pointed out that it also had 12 stores in Slovenia, who England have drawn in their qualifying group in the tournament. Mr Forsey said he was "pleased with the opportunities" the draw presented.

Over the half-year, Sports Direct's pre-tax profits fell by 41 per cent to £57.8m, largely resulting from the impact of foreign exchange rate fluctuations on hedging arrangements. Stripping out this impact and those of disposals on its listed investments, its underlying pre-tax profits were up 39 per cent at £71.9m. Mr Forsey said : "We are very pleased with the performance both internationally and in the UK. It is a testament to the hard work we have put in over the last 18 months."

Sports Direct said it now expected to deliver full-year underlying earnings before tax, interest, depreciation and amortisation of at least £155m, compared with its previous guidance of £150m. It also lowered its net debt to £362m, down from £431.1m as of 26 April 2009, but will not be paying an interim dividend.

Last month, Sports Direct hired Keith Hellawell, the Government's former drugs tsar and current chairman of Goldshield Group, as its non-executive chairman after a two-and-a-half-year search. Mr Forsey said: "He brings a wealth of experience, not just across business but in running large organisations."

Sports Direct is currently involved in three enquiries. Its purchase of 31 stores from JJB was referred to the Competition Commission in August, while it is also the subject of investigations by the Office of Fair Trading and Serious Fraud Office.

Officers from both organisations visited Sports Direct's head office on 10 September to investigate alleged price-fixing activities after its rival JJB turned whistleblower. Sports Direct denies any wrongdoing.

Life and Style
Cooked up: reducing dietary animal fat might not be as healthy as government advice has led millions of people to believe
healthA look at how governments started advising incorrectly on diets
News
REX/Eye Candy
science
Sport
Angel Di Maria poses with Louis van Gaal after signing for Manchester United
sport
News
peopleGerman paper published pictures of 18-month-old daughter
PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
'A voice untroubled by time': Kate Bush
musicReview: A preamble, then a coup de théâtre - and suddenly the long wait felt worth it
Life and Style
tech
News
people
Voices
voices
Sport
Roger Federer is greeted by Michael Jordan following his victory over Marinko Matosevic
tennisRoger Federer gets Michael Jordan's applause following tweener shot in win over Marinko Matosevic
News
peopleJustin Bieber accuses paparazzi of acting 'recklessly' after car crash
Arts and Entertainment
Oppressive atmosphere: the cast of 'Tyrant'
tvIntroducing Tyrant, one of the most hotly anticipated dramas of the year
News
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
News
i100
Life and Style
tech
News
Ukrainian Leonid Stadnik, 37, 2.59 meter (8,5 feet) tall, the world's tallest living man, waves as he poses for the media by the Chevrolet Tacuma car presented to him by President of Ukraine Viktor Yushchenko in Kiev on March 24, 2008.
newsPeasant farmer towered at almost 8'5'' - but shunned the limelight
News
Walter Matthau and Jack Lemmon in ‘The Front Page’, using an old tech typewriter
media
Life and Style
Could a robot sheepdog find itself working at Skipton Auction Mart?
techModel would allow robots to be programmed to control crowds and save people from burning buildings
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Client Services Executive / Account Executive - SW London

£23000 - £26000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Account Executive / Client Services ...

PA to CEO / Executive Secretary

£36000 - £38000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Executive PA to CEO & Executive Dire...

Generalist HR Administrator, Tunbridge Wells, Kent - £28,000.

£25000 - £28000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Generalist HR Administrator - Tunbri...

Senior C# Developer (.NET, C#, JMS, TDD, Web API, MVC, integrat

£45000 - £75000 per annum + benefits+bonus+package: Harrington Starr: Senior C...

Day In a Page

Kate Bush, Hammersmith Apollo music review: A preamble, then a coup de théâtre - and suddenly the long wait felt worth it

Kate Bush shows a voice untroubled by time

A preamble, then a coup de théâtre - and suddenly the long wait felt worth it
Robot sheepdog technology could be used to save people from burning buildings

The science of herding is cracked

Mathematical model would allow robots to be programmed to control crowds and save people from burning buildings
Tyrant: Is the world ready for a Middle Eastern 'Dallas'?

This tyrant doesn’t rule

It’s billed as a Middle Eastern ‘Dallas’, so why does Fox’s new drama have a white British star?
Rachael Lander interview: From strung out to playing strings

From strung out to playing strings

Award-winning cellist Rachael Lander’s career was almost destroyed by the alcohol she drank to fight stage fright. Now she’s playing with Elbow and Ellie Goulding
The science of saturated fat: A big fat surprise about nutrition?

A big fat surprise about nutrition?

The science linking saturated fats to heart disease and other health issues has never been sound. Nina Teicholz looks at how governments started advising incorrectly on diets
Emmys 2014 review: Can they genuinely compete with the Oscars

Can they genuinely compete with the Oscars?

The recent Emmy Awards are certainly glamorous, but they can't beat their movie cousins
On the road to nowhere: A Routemaster trip to remember

On the road to nowhere

A Routemaster trip to remember
Hotel India: Mumbai's Taj Mahal Palace leaves its darker days behind

Hotel India

Mumbai's Taj Mahal Palace leaves its darker days behind
10 best pencil cases

Back to school: 10 best pencil cases

Whether it’s their first day at school, uni or a new project, treat the student in your life to some smart stationery
Arsenal vs Besiktas Champions League qualifier: Gunners know battle with Turks is a season-defining fixture

Arsenal know battle with Besiktas is a season-defining fixture

Arsene Wenger admits his below-strength side will have to improve on last week’s show to pass tough test
Pete Jenson: Athletic Bilbao’s locals-only transfer policy shows success does not need to be bought

Pete Jenson: A Different League

Athletic Bilbao’s locals-only transfer policy shows success does not need to be bought
This guitar riff has been voted greatest of all time

The Greatest Guitar Riff of all time

Whole Lotta Votes from Radio 2 listeners
Britain’s superstar ballerina

Britain’s superstar ballerina

Alicia Markova danced... every night of the week and twice on Saturdays
Berlin's Furrie invasion

Berlin's Furrie invasion

2000 fans attended Eurofeurence
‘It was a tidal wave of terror’

‘It was a tidal wave of terror’

Driven to the edge by postpartum psychosis