Discount sportswear retailer Sports Direct, headed by entrepreneur Mike Ashley, officially declared that 2008 had seen the toughest trading in the company’s history.
Pre-tax profits dived 35.2% to £52 million for the 26 weeks to October 28. City analysts had already downgraded full-year profit forecasts after the retailer reported flat profits and sales for the 13 weeks to July 27 earlier in the year. For the year to April 28, profits dropped by more than half to £85m.
Ashley continues to surprise and frustrate those trying to second guess him. The group bought a 4.96% stake in sports equipment firm Amer Sports Corporation at the start of the year, and acquired young fashion brand Golddigga in June.
Sports Direct bought £3.4m of shares in its rival JJB Sports in October, giving it a 4.7% stake. It holds an additional 14% to 15% via contracts for difference. This has prompted an Office of Fair Trading enquiry as to whether a merger is in the offing, which could be deemed bad news for consumers.