In the first half ended July 29, JJB Sports revenue dropped 4.3% to £365.3m ($738.2 mm) with comps down 4.4%. The decline largely reflected tough year-ago comparisons, which was boosted by the 2006 World Cup. While total retail revenue was down 6.2% in the period, retail store revenue excluding replica products decreased 1.3% with small decreases in textiles and equipment being partly offset by an increase in revenue from golf products.

Gross margins improved to 50.8% from 48.0%, but adjusted pre-tax profits tumbled 58.3% to £8.3m ($16.7 mm) from £19.9m ($40.2 mm). Adjusted pre-tax profits are before credits related to the disposal from the closure of Icon stores.

In the eight weeks ended September 23, revenues grew 4.9%, helped by the improved weather from mid-August to September together with the launch of certain Premiership replica kits in the second half of this year. Comps grew 5.2%, ad retail revenues gained 4.1%. The combined gross margin during the eight weeks improved 380 basis points. In retail stores, all major product categories increased revenues and gross margins.

JJB Sports recently acquired the exclusive UK rights to the Champion brand from Champion Europe S.p.a as part of its overall plan to grow its “own brand” assortments. Private label or exclusive brands represents approximately 15% of sales. Besides Champion, JJB recently acquired interest in KooGa Rugby Limited, a rugby brand.