Wednesday 22 November 2017

Champion Sports owner reports 21pc rise in profits to €91.7m

John Mulligan

John Mulligan

Champion Sports owner JD Sports has reported a 21pc rise in pre-exceptional, pre-tax profits to £81.5m (€91.7m) for the year to the end of January, with revenue climbing almost 15pc to £883.6m (€994.5m).

However, it warned that its margins are being squeezed by increased costs which it has been unable to pass on in full to hard-pressed consumers.

UK-listed JD Sports acquired Champion Sports in January for a nominal sum and agreed to settle €17.1m of the firm's outstanding debts.

Champion Sports was sold by businessmen including developers Bernard McNamara and Jerry O'Reilly, as well as Terry Sweeney, David Courtney and Bernard Doyle.

Their equity in the business evaporated while Anglo Irish Bank, which had advanced about €30m to fund the purchase of the business back in 2006, took a hit on that loan.

JD Sports already had eight outlets in Ireland before it added a further 22 with the acquisition of Champion Sports.

JD Sports executive chairman Peter Cowgill said that, after successive years of record results for the group, the retail economic environment was "significantly impacted" by adverse fiscal changes and other pressures.

"There's a gloom and doom around the market," said Mr Cowgill. "Consumers are saving a bit more in the face of job insecurity. If parents are being prudent, there's not as much to go around."

He added that it was "inevitable" that the board would be "extremely cautious" in its outlook.

JD Sports, which ended the financial year with net cash of £86.1m (€96.8m) compared to £60.5m a year earlier, also hiked its total dividend for the year by 28pc to 23p per share.

Shares in the company closed down 7.1pc in London at £8.37. (Additional reporting, Bloomberg)

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