As retailers race towards the Christmas finish line, king of trainers JD Sports has delivered something of a personal best this year.
For the third time this year, JD Sports Fashion upped its profit forecasts, declaring that owing to better than expected trading, it anticipated beating full-year earnings forecasts of £125m by £10m.
Given its recent trading successes, JD Sports might just as well use the tagline the king of clothing, thanks to the impressive growth in its apparel lines.
This in particular is what is impressing the City, as it shows JD is no one-trick pony. And the higher proportion of own-label clothing compared with trainers is powering margin growth too, with its Supply and Demand brand doing particularly well, according to Peel Hunt.
It’s not just product that seems to be winning over shoppers, but channels too. Compared with its great rival, Sports Direct, the in store shopping experience in JD Sports is slick, and the big sports brands like the attention to detail given to visual merchandising. Its new Oxford Street flagship is the best example of this.
Its online prowess has not gone unnoticed either. “JD’s social media efforts are impressive and arguably more importantly still, its online offer is much improved so we expect JD to keep winning market share across channels,” says Peel Hunt analyst Jonathan Pritchard.
It’s not just a case of home wins, JD is flourishing overseas too. The retailer operates about 90 stores in Europe and its Spanish business Sprinter, as well as Chausport in France, are performing in line with the core JD fascia.
But there are questions over the wisdom of being in the outdoor sector. JD waded into the market when it acquired Blacks Leisure in 2012, but it has proved challenging for the sports retailer. Two unseasonably warm autumns in a row have prompted discounting across the sector and competition is fierce.
However this is a small gripe, and should not detract from a gangbusting performance from JD Sports this year. True sporting champions deliver year after year, and if JD carries on at this pace rivals will have to up their game to stand a chance of knocking it off the podium top spot.
- Nicola Harrison is content editor at Retail Week