JD profit shows there's all to play for

JD Sports has posted a 71% jump in half-year profits, proving that retail really is a funny old game.

Last Updated: 06 Nov 2012

That may seem like a leap for the budget sports store. Actually, given that the rest of the high street is starting to panic about whether anyone's even going to turn up to play this coming Christmas, it's the retail equivalent of Usain Bolt's gold medal-winning sprints.

The firm, which has 430 shops, made £9.1m in the six months to 2 August, with like-for-sale sales up 6%. Executive chairman Peter Cowgill put it down to the firm ‘bridging the gap between sport and fashion'. Many who have visited JD Sports stores may well question the nature of such a bridge. While David Beckham spans that very chasm with chiselled features, revealing underwear ads and a celebrity wife, JD Sports peddles shell-suits, and has a website which gives a rundown on the Top 10 men's white trainers.

Still, it seems to be working. As well as the JD Sports brands, it also operates more fashion driven shops, Bank and Scotts. The suggestion being that in tougher economic times, people will buy clothes that can double as sports wear and casual clothing, rather than shopping for each separately. If that means you have to walk round with a Boston Red Sox baseball cap perched high on your head, twisted to a suitably anti-authoritarian angle, then so be it. 

JD's financial performance provides yet more proof, if it were needed, of the shortcomings of the stock market system. JD's business is doing better, and it's making more money, but like the rest of the high street its share price is still suffering - because the markets insist on tarring everyone in retail with the same brush.

JD Sports stores stock large amounts of own-brand clothing - such as McKenzie - and are less reliant on replica football kits than rivals, sales of which have slowed up with as belts tighten. The other upshot of this: punters can avoid the fashion faux-pas of wearing names like AIG and Northern Rock, both Premiership shirt sponsors, splashed across their chests.

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