The owner of JD Sports has been rewarded for its decision to focus more on sportswear after it reported higher profits and sales than a year ago.
John David Group said like-for-like sales at its 290 sports outlets were up 2.1 per cent since the financial year ended on January 28, marking an acceleration on the 0.3 per cent rise over the previous 12 months.
Sportswear, including tops and branded shirts, now represents 92 per cent of sales after the company rescued the Allsports chain from administration in October. The remainder comprises sales at its outlets devoted to fashion.
A review of the Allsports business ended with the brand name being dropped, existing management being made redundant and 80 stores being retained and converted to the JD Sports fascia. Allsports had 270 sites.
JD said stock levels at the end of the financial year were only £1.6 million higher and this is likely to come down as it wraps up a clearance sale of old Allsports products.
The company added: "We remain convinced that the Allsports store portfolio we have retained will generate a profit in the future as a result of the actions we have taken."
An 18 per cent increase in operating profits to £20.1 million at JD was applauded by analysts who noted the contrast with the 45 per cent fall in profits reported
by major rival JJB Sports last month. However, JD said its results would have been better if losses of £2.5 million from its 46 fashion outlets did not have to be absorbed.
Pretax profits were one per cent higher at £3.65 million compared with £3.6 million a year earlier, while overall sales for the year to January 28 rose to £490.3 million from £471.7 million a year earlier.
JD has isolated the fashion division, which includes the stores acquired from RD Scott in December 2004, with its own management team and separate stock.
But the company said the spate of retailers going bust was hampering efforts to offload more of its fashion stores, while the retail sector was weighed down with above-average increases in costs such as rents, rates and the minimum wage.
Executive chairman Peter Cowgill said store disposals were on the agenda for at least another year. n Outdoor and sports equipment retailer Blacks Leisure Group recorded pretax profit of £21.4 million in the full year to February, up from £20.4 million the year before.
The company, which also includes the Milletts chain, saw turnover rise by 1.1 per cent to £297.1 million. Like for like, sales decreased by 3.3 per cent in the full year.
Chairman David Bernstein said: "The group has, once again, delivered both sales and profit growth."