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JD Sports defies weak UK high street with profit rise

London

JD Sports, Britain's biggest sportswear retailer, on Tuesday reported higher first-half pre-tax profit, helped by more demand for gym apparel and premium branded fashion.

The owner of Footpatrol and Cloggs said pre-tax profit rose 6.6 per cent to £129.9 million (S$219 million) for the six months to Aug 3.

JD has successfully targetted younger consumers who are driving the trend for athleisure, where sports clothes have become more acceptable at work, school and social occasions.

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The company, which acquired rival Footasylum in April, reported a 47 per cent rise in group revenue to £2.72 billion, with like-for-like growth in its global sports fashion businesses and growth of more than 10 per cent in its main UK and Ireland fascias.

"Against a backdrop of widely reported retail challenges in the UK, it is extremely encouraging that JD has delivered like for like sales growth of more than 10 per cent," executive chairman Peter Cowgill said.

JD Sports' focus on athleisure has helped it outperform a struggling British retail sector, reflecting more people shopping online, higher costs and weakening consumer spending.

Mr Cowgill said "notwithstanding the ongoing uncertainty with regards to Brexit", the company was confident it was on track to deliver headline profit before tax for the full year at the top end of market expectations, which currently range from £402 million to £424 million. REUTERS