Sports Direct bucks high street trend with soaring profits

Sports Direct 220213

Mike Ashley's chain builds on success it enjoyed during the London Olympics

LAST UPDATED AT 10:29 ON Fri 22 Feb 2013

NOT EVERYONE on the high street is suffering. Sports Direct has bucked the gloomy trend by posting a 20 per cent rise in sales and an ever bigger jump in gross profits since October.

An incentive scheme for employees is believed to have helped boost sales and now Sports Direct's staff will share in the firm's success, receiving bonus payments if the company meets its full-year profits target of £270m, reports the Daily Telegraph.

The retailer, founded by Newcastle United owner Mike Ashley, reported sales up 21 per cent to £590 million since the end of October, with gross profits up 23 per cent to £245 million.

The figures show the chain has built on the success it enjoyed during the London 2012 Olympics. Shares in Sports Direct, which could be in line for entry to the FTSE 100 in next month's reshuffle, rose by five per cent to 438p.

The company's main rival, JJB Sports, collapsed last year, but analyst Bhaven Patel told the Glasgow Herald there were no "gloomy clouds" hanging over Sports Direct. "The company will be basking in sunshine after a stellar set of results showing that Christmas really wasn't as bleak as sector peers made out".

Despite the good news for Ashley and his team, retailers have asked Chancellor George Osborne for help in next month's Budget after a painful period for high street traders.

HMV, Jessops and Republic have all entered administration in the post-Christmas period, prompting the British Retail Consortium to ask Osborne to introduce a national insurance holiday for all companies taking on young unemployed people, and to encourage customer parking improvements on the high street. · 

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