Executive chairman of JD Sports Fashion Peter Cowgill has said Brexit headwinds are a concern for the second half of the year, despite record sales and profits at the sportswear chain.
JD today reported that profits before tax soared 81% year on year to £238.4m while revenue jumped 31% to £2.3bn for the year to 28 January.
But Cowgill told Drapers that while the Bury-based firm has systems in place to mitigate the Brexit effect, its toll on consumer confidence is still a worry for the retailer.
“JD is well-protected from the Brexit headwinds, as are many other UK businesses. That being said we’ve got to recognise that it is an economic factor to contend with. I prefer to concentrate on the micro factors like our proposition as we can influence that, we have no control over the wider economic climate.”
When asked about his outlook for the rest of 2017 he added: “I’m never confident but we have a robust business, great people on board and we work hard for [our success].”
During the year the retailer opened a net 54 stores for the JD fascia across Europe. Further afield, two more stores in Malaysia opened during the financial year and another has opened since January. The first JD store in Australia is due to open shortly following the retailer’s acquisition of Australian young fashion retailer Glue Store in September.
Cowgill said the retailer will continue with the same rate of international expansion this year.
“We’re monitoring which countries are more successful than others for us in Europe and we’re working hard to refine our proposition but I’m confident the JD proposition will hold overseas.”
He added: “We’re quite content with the number of countries we’re in and we’ve got a lot of headroom to grow in Europe in particular but we’ll take on new markets depending on the opportunities that come up. We are an attractive proposition and we get approached by various potential partners often. We consider each on their merits and how we might work together.”
JD’s outdoor division, comprising Blacks and Millets, moved out of the red this year, making an operating profit of £1.1m, up from a loss of £3.9m the year before. Cowgill said further improvements are in the pipeline for the division.
“It’s taken us a while to move forward with the outdoor fascia and we’re still working on it,” he said. ”We’re continuing to refine as we go. We’re working hard to make sure we have the best proposition on the high street. It’s a tough market but at the end of the day shoppers vote with their feet and their spend and we’ve benefitted from that.”
Cowgill pointed to JD’s strong store fit and the popularity of the athleisure trend as driving factors behind the retailer’s overall success during the year.
“It’s a combination of things coming together,” he explained. ”The stores are a very credible representation on the high street. The product lines are in vogue at the moment as the athleisure trend is strong and we are well positioned to capitalise on that.”