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Sales slow at Sports Direct due to ‘weak winter’

Sports Direct has announced a slowdown in growth, with group sales increasing just 2.6% to £771m in the 13 weeks to February 18 due to a “weak winter” across Europe.

Gross profit for the period increased 7.6% to £346.9m.

Sales in the sports retail division were up 2.7% to £643.2m, with gross profit for that sector increasing by 9.4% to £297.2m.

The weakest section of the business was the premium lifestyle arm, where sales dropped 0.4% to £70.9m and gross profit dipped 2.8% to £27.6m.

The brands division saw the biggest jump in sales over the three months, up 4.8% to £56.9m,however gross profit fell by 0.9% to £22.1m.

Dave Forsey, chief executive of Sports Direct said trading was in line with management’s expectations despite the “challenging” season in Europe.

“Within sports retail we continue to focus on upgrading our store portfolio and integrating our business in Austria, where a weak winter sports season across Europe has proved challenging. While we retain the ability to invest in margin, inventory and group marketing to deliver long term sustainable growth, the board is very confident of achieving at least our full year internal underlying EBITDA target of £360m, before the charge for the Employee Bonus Share Schemes.”

The news follows the announcement earlier this week that Jeff Blue, a senior director charged with leading mergers and acquisitions for Sports Direct, has left the company.

Sports Direct founder Mike Ashley is being called before MPs at the House of Commons over the treatment of employees at USC and the use of zero-hours contracts.

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