Sports Direct, the U.K.'s largest sporting goods retailer, raised its full-year profit forecast after a better-than-expected first quarter. Revenue increased 10% in the 13 weeks to July 26, to £375 million ($619 million), with group profit up 4.7% to £157 million ($260 million).
The company now expects to achieve underlying earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) of “at least” £150 million ($248 million) in the year to April 2010. That compared with a previous 2009-10 forecast of at least £140 million ($231.2 million), and the £137 million (226.1 million) made in 2008-09.
Sports Direct owns Sports World and Lillywhites stores as well as brands such as Slazenger, Lonsdale, Everlast and Dunlop.
Sports Direct said sales since the end of July had continued to be ahead of last year, adding it was on track to reduce net debt to below £400 million ($660.5 million) from £431 million ($711.6 million) reported at the end of its financial year in April.
Said Dave Forsey, CEO, in a full statement, “The Board is pleased with the progress made in the year to date. Group revenue for the 13 weeks ended 26 July 2009 increased 10% to £375m (2008: £336m) and the corresponding Group gross profit increased to £157m (2008: £150m). Since the end of July, trading has continued to be ahead of last year and we are very comfortable with our expectation of reducing net debt to below £400 million. The Board now expects, at current exchange rates, to achieve underlying EBITDA of at least £150 million this financial year.”
The company further noted that UK retail has opened five new stores including three Field &Trek stores, and closed 2 stores, one of which was a relocation. International retail opened a store in both Belgium and Slovenia and closed a smaller store in each of those countries.
On August 7, the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) made a referral to the Competition Commission (CC) concerning the acquisition of certain retail stores from JJB. The company said , “We continue to co-operate fully with the enquiry and work with the CC on the matter.”