Sports Direct sales rocket 23.5% after European expansion

Revenues have rocketed by 23.5% at Mike Ashley’s retail firm Sports Direct for the first half of the financial year after rapid growth overseas.

A Sports Direct outlet
A Sports Direct outlet

Revenues have rocketed by 23.5% at Mike Ashley’s retail firm Sports Direct for the first half of the financial year after rapid growth overseas.

Turnover topped £1.35bn for the six months to October 27 2013 – ahead of the management’s expectations – and pre-tax profits also rose by 14.3% to £143.1m, up from the £125.2m posted for the same time period in 2012.

That puts the business, controlled by Newcastle United owner Mike Ashley on track to meet targets and trigger another employee bonus.

In August, 2,000 full-time staff shared a £112m bonus through the group’s incentive scheme dating back to 2009, equating to a windfall of £76,000 for those earning a salary of £20,000 four years ago.

Online sales grew by 43% and now contributes 15.5% of total Sports Retail sales, and the firm is now active in 19 countries after further expansion into Europe.

During the period Ashley’s company made a £35m deal to grab a 51% share of EAG, Austria’s largest sporting goods retailer, and it also agreed an undisclosed sum for 60% of Sportland International Group (SIG), the biggest sporting retailer in the Baltic region.

The plans were a further step forward in an international expansion strategy by Sports Direct, adding to retail interests in Belgium, France, Holland, Luxembourg, Slovenia, Cyprus and Ireland.

Dave Forsey, chief executive, said the acquisitions were progressing well and that the firm was continuing on the acquisition trail, hunting out more European opportunities.

He said: “We have delivered another strong performance reflecting our continued focus on providing customers with exceptional quality and unbeatable value – reinforcing our position as the consumer champion.

“The growth in Group revenues and EBITDA has been ahead of expectations and achieved against a tough comparative that included the UEFA European Championships and the London 2012 Olympics.

“The performance of Sports Retail is particularly pleasing with significant growth in the UK, Europe and online. The group’s expansion in Europe has also continued with acquisitions in Austria and the Baltic states. The integration of these acquisitions is progressing and we continue to look for further opportunities across Europe.

“The board is confident of achieving at least our full year internal underlying EBITDA target of £310m.”

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