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JD Sports eyes global expansion

JD Sports is moving closer to its goal of moving outside of Europe for the first time, the retailer’s chief financial officer Brian Small said today.

Reporting a 10.6% increase in like-for-like store sales for the five weeks to January, the sportswear chain said it would look “further afield” following the success of its European expansion, and the US and the Far East were potential markets.

“It’s a longer-term plan and we would have to find the right partner, but moving further afield is the next test for us. We will move cautiously and we will have to get brand supports but it could be [the US, the Far East] next,” Small added.

Over the last six months JD Sports entered Scandinavia, Italy and Belgium for the first time.

Small said the business’s “main thrust” would be to continue the “successful” European expansion in 2016 and the retailer will open more shops in these territories, as well as “expanding the existing potential” in Spain, France and Germany where the business has had shops for several years.

JD Sports experienced “strong double-digit growth” online over the festive season, as well as a positive performance across all its fascias, which include young fashion retailers Scotts and Tessutti.

As reported by Drapers earlier this week JD Sports is to close its multi-brand mini-chain Ark, putting 104 jobs at risk.

Small said the Ark business was “too small” for JD Sports to focus on.

“It wasn’t working. It’s very small for us and we need to concentrate on the main event – the sportswear side of the business – but Scotts, Tessutti and [etailer] Mainline are performing well.”

Small said consumers were more positive this Christmas and were willing to spend if the product was right.

“There wasn’t as much doom and gloom around. There’s no doubt that athleisure and trainers are very much in fashion, so that played to our stregnths over Christmas. We’re lucky to have good brand relationships and a wide variety of products are committed to buying. That allowed us to sustain a period of full-price sell-through.”

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