JD revamps its strategy in bid for profits

Embattled sports and fashion retailer John David Group is confident of recovery, despite a slump in profits, as executive chairman Peter Cowgill devises a change in strategy.

In the year to January 31, the retailer posted a fall in pre-tax profits from£15.1 million a year ago to£6 million. Sales rose from£370.8 million to£458.1 million.

Chief executive Barry Bown said the recovery was visible in the strong trading at the core JD Sports chain, which he sees continuing for the rest of the year. In the first 13 weeks, same-store sales at the sports division were up 2.5 per cent, bucking the trend in a tough retail climate.

In a U-turn from former executive chairman Roger Best's strategy, the retailer is focusing on refining the store portfolio and is particularly holding back in its 'disappointing' fashion division, which accounts for 10 per cent of sales.

'We need to become a lot more consistent. We need to reduce the number of key brands to about eight or 10 and buy deeper,' said Bown.

He is stalling the opening of more trendy Size? shops and is returning it to its roots as a 'sneaker freak store'. The Ath- chain, which is being rebranded from Athleisure, will remain the retailer's core fashion fascia.

Meanwhile, industry insiders continue to believe that majority shareholders John Wardle and David Makin are sellers, sparking speculation of a third-party takeover or a trade sale.