Page last updated at 17:53 GMT, Wednesday, 8 April 2009 18:53 UK

Strong performance at JD Sports

JD Sports website
JD Sports' shares have nearly doubled this year

High Street retailer JD Sports says its profits rose 9% in 2008 and trading in the new year has started well.

The Bury-based sports and leisure outfit said pre-tax, post-exceptional profit had risen to £38.2m, from £35m.

Its executive chairman Peter Cowgill said 2008 had "been the fifth successive year of good progress in revenue and profitability".

In the nine weeks to 4 April 2009 like-for-like sales were up 0.3% despite 2008's figures including Easter trade.

At the close of trading in London, shares in JD Sports were up 10.50p, or 2.92%, at 370 pence.

Fashion brands

However, the firm, which has nearly 450 shops across the UK, acknowledged that further improvement in sales and margins in its sports retailing would be "increasingly challenging".

The firm improved its profit before tax and exceptional items by 24% in the year to £53.6m. This follows increases of 73% and 51% in the previous two years.

JD shares have nearly doubled this year after the firm twice said it would beat expectations for the financial year to 31 January.

As well as selling sportswear, JD Sports also includes the fashion brands Bank, Scotts and Deakins.

Rival struggling

Mr Cowgill said that the current economic conditions "may have some knock-on effect" but that they were "taking nothing for granted" in terms of sales.

Last year, JD bought a 10% stake in struggling rival JJB Sports, which on Tuesday said it had finalised the terms of a company voluntary agreement (CVA) aimed at easing its rent burden and supporting its finances.

Wigan-based JJB said it had secured £50m of new banking facilities.

JJB Sports operates from about 250 stores after a wide-ranging closure programme over the last year, but still pays rent on more than 100 closed shops.

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