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Analysts response: Sports Direct

Analysts have applauded Sports Direct’s latest results after the sportswear chain revealed it is certain of delivering £270m EBITDA in 2013 after group profits shot up by more than 20% in its last quarter.

Peter Saville, partner at advisory and restructuring firm Zolfo Cooper, called Sports Direct owner Mike Ashley a “high street hero”. “Sports Direct is going from strength to strength with today’s results shining a ray of light on an otherwise gloomy high street and its 23% rise in profits being the envy of many,” he said.

Saville added: “Mike Ashley continues to prove himself as one of Britain’s high street heroes, having mastered the latest consumer trends in time to reap the benefits. At a time when many retail employees fear for their jobs, Sports Direct staff are enjoying a generous benefit scheme. If rumours of Ashley’s plans to expand into different areas of the high street are true, other retailers may soon find themselves in the shadow of Sports Direct’s founder.”

Meanwhile, Zsolt Mester, analyst at Edison Investment Research, said the latest statement shows another period of “strong growth”. Mester added: “International expansion remains a key element of the group’s strategy as a source of growth given that the UK market is relatively saturated.”

Retail analyst Nick Bubb said: “There is no doubt that Sports Direct was a big winner, as today’s update flags that the core Sports Retail division saw impressive 21% sales growth, driven by both strong online growth and strong store sales growth. With selling space static at 4m sq ft, that growth is all like-for-like basically, and with gross margins slightly higher as well.”

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