JD Sports Fashion has defied the odds and managed to report strong sales and profits despite the COVID-19 pandemic. The company’s ability to trade online during temporary store closures played a significant role in retaining a substantial portion of its sales. This demonstrates the resilience and adaptability of the JD brand in meeting the ever-changing preferences of consumers.

In the period leading up to January, JD Sports Fashion saw its revenue increase to £6.167 billion, compared to the previous year’s figure of £6.11 billion. The company also achieved a gross profit percentage of 48%, surpassing the industry average of 47%. However, pre-tax profit before exceptional items dropped to £421.3 million, down from £438.8 million, and overall pre-tax profit decreased to £324 million, down from £348.5 million.

Considering the unprecedented challenges posed by the pandemic and temporary store closures, these results are commendable. JD Sports Fashion attributes its success to several factors, including the strong and premium position of its JD brand and the loyalty of consumers towards it. The company also emphasizes the relevance of its product offerings to style-conscious consumers and its agile multichannel ecosystem.

A standout performer for JD Sports Fashion was its US operations, particularly its Finish Line and JD chains. Increased consumer demand resulting from government stimulus measures played a part in this success. The company also made progress in international markets, opening 31 new JD stores in Mainland Europe and five in the Asia Pacific region. However, expansion was hindered by construction and fit-out restrictions.

JD Sports Fashion’s outdoor business saw profitability during the second half of the year, with strong performances in key categories. The company’s apparel category, specifically casualwear and sportswear, contributed significantly to its revenue, accounting for over 50% of sales in the UK. JD Sports Fashion believes that this growth in apparel is sustainable and will continue even after the pandemic.

The multichannel approach and strong relationships with brands are crucial elements of JD Sports Fashion’s success. The company prides itself on its reputation among international brands and its ability to foster long-term collaborative partnerships. Its JD and Size businesses in the UK and Ireland remained resilient throughout the year, with online revenues making up a significant portion of sales during temporary store closures.

JD Sports Fashion’s premium brand Fashion businesses in the UK also performed well. Mainline Menswear, an online pureplay, experienced significant growth and attracted new customers with its high-quality digital and customer service experiences. The company found that the retention of sales during temporary store closures was consistent across its JD brand.

In Europe, JD and Size maintained an average retention of sales during store closures of 35%, with higher retention in Northern Europe where online shopping is more established. Footfall initially recovered slowly as stores reopened, but there was gradual improvement during the summer and early autumn. However, stores in Iberia, heavily reliant on tourism, saw a decline in sales.

Despite the challenges brought about by the pandemic and the UK’s exit from the European Union, JD Sports Fashion remains confident in its capabilities and its position in the industry. Executive Chairman Peter Cowgill acknowledges the unprecedented challenges faced by the company but highlights the positive themes that emerged throughout the year. As JD Sports Fashion looks to the future, it believes it is at the forefront of the global sports fashion industry.

Sources:
– [JD Sports Fashion](https://www.jdsports.co.uk/)
– [Finish Line](https://www.finishline.com/)