Sports float setback

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The Independent Online
Sports Division, the fast-growing sports retailer, has formally abandoned plans to seek a stock market listing this year due to City concerns over weak high street spending and a slowdown in top brand sportswear such as Nike and Adidas.

The company had been planning a pounds 350m listing this spring, timed to take advantage of the World Cup next month. This has now been ruled out and next February or March has been set as the earliest possible time for a float.

A company spokesman said yesterday: "Sports Division is now unlikely to float this year principally due to a weak retail market. The company will float at the most suitable time when it can give investors the growth they are looking for in a stable market."

The decision was taken following results from rival sports retailers JJB Sports last month and Black Leisure last week. JJB reported same store sales up by 3 per cent in current trading, while sales were flat at First Sports, part of Blacks' Leisure.

Though the figures were not as bad as feared they still demonstrated a slowdown at a time when all the large chains are adding huge amounts of new space.

Sports Division said yesterday that it still plans to open around 30 new edge-of-town stores this year, taking its total to around 100.

It also has 190 high street stores, though the company is keen to shift its balance away from these.