JD sports has posted a rise in sales and profits and said it expects to continue to prosper despite the impact of coronavirus and a changing landscape.

JD Sports reported sales up 30% to £6.11bn in the year ending February 1, before the Covid lockdown came into effect. Like-for-likes advanced approximately 10% in JD’s core UK and Ireland business.

Pre-tax profit rose 3% to £348.5m over the year.

JD, which last month put its Go Outdoors business through a pre-pack administration, called for “rental realism” as the pandemic continues to affect business.

JD reported that during lockdowns in the UK and overseas, about 98% of its store estate was shut and that, “not surprisingly”, there was ”a very strong performance online in the store closure period”.

The retailer is investing further in its Rochdale warehouse in the expectation that “there will be some level of permanent transfer from physical retail to online as a consequence of Covid-19”.

The retailer said: “Whilst the majority of stores have now reopened, it is very clear that footfall in stores will remain uncertain for the foreseeable future. Social distancing measures have a disproportionate effect in smaller spaces, particularly for fascias like JD which attract high levels of footfall over concentrated periods of time such as weekends and school holidays.

“This concentration of footfall has historically been most evident in major malls and city centres and it is these locations which are likely to see the biggest impact relative to historical levels if social distancing measures continue to operate in some form, particularly through the peak period later in the year.

“However, in terms of our core UK market, a significant nationwide presence in both high streets and out-of-town retail parks does provide consumers with an alternative location if they wish to avoid enclosed spaces. Recognising that rents effectively buy footfall, we will continue to push for greater correlation between levels of footfall and rents payable across our physical retail estate.”

JD Sports executive chair Peter Cowgill said: “Whilst Covid-19 has constrained our short-term progress, it is important that we do not lose sight of the core retail standards and commercial disciplines which have underpinned our longer-term growth to date.

“JD has a market-leading multichannel proposition which maximises its consumer relevance and reach by creating, and then maintaining, a deep emotional connection with its consumers who see JD as an authoritative and trustworthy source of style and fashion inspiration with influences drawn from both sport and music.

“We were encouraged by the continued positive trading in the early weeks of the year prior to the emergence of Covid-19 and we firmly believe that we are well placed to regain our previous momentum.

“Looking longer term, there is inevitably considerable uncertainty as to what the effect of Covid-19 will be on consumer behaviour and footfall with future store investments highly dependent on rental realism and lease flexibility.

“Ultimately, however, we remain confident that we have a market-leading multi-channel proposition which has the necessary flexibility and agility to prosper within a retail environment that may see profound and permanent structural change.”