JD Sports has reported sales up 12% to £10.1 billion in the year ending 28 January 2023 in what has been described by its chair as “another period of excellent progress”, despite wholesale leadership changes.
Pre-tax profit for the period hit a record £991.4 million (2022: £947.2 million) while gross margin edged down from 49.1% a year ago to 47.8%.
Following the exit of long-standing executive chair Peter Cowgill, the group underwent a change of leadership last year with Andrew Higginson joining as chair in July followed by the arrival of a new CEO, Régis Schultz, last autumn.
Higginson said the group had not allowed the changes to distract it as it steered towards another record year. “In July 2022 I had the great privilege of being appointed the Chair of the JD Group. This followed the departure of Peter Cowgill who had led the business so successfully for the previous 18 years. I found a business that had a strong leadership team, committed staff and a supportive majority shareholder in Pentland. The business was in tune with its customers, respected by its branded suppliers, was trading strongly and had a significant number of opportunities for growth ahead of it.”
Schultz’s arrival led to the group doubling down on its core market of sports and it quickly divested a number of non-core fashion brands (including retailers Giulio and Cricket) to rival Frasers Group. Schultz also outlined its plan to be a truly global sports retail force.
During the latter half of the last financial year, Higginson said the business had seen a significant increase in trade, in particular in North America where the supply of product had normalised following supply chain issues in the wake of the pandemic. As such the business has its sights set on further expansion in the North American market.
More to come…