THE growing leisurewear trend helped JD SPORTS’ profits to a record £238million, a leap of 81 per cent.
Sales rose 31 per cent to £2.4billion as the sportswear retailer had its third consecutive year of growth.
Executive chairman Peter Cowgill told The Sun: “This reflects a positive market and, in terms of the athleisure product, the firm’s ability to identify our target market and service it appropriately.”
The group’s outdoor division — with its BLACKS and MILLETS outlets — returned a profit for the first time, pre-tax figures for the year to January 28 revealed.
JD’s shares closed at 440.99, up 34.39 points.
It has 900 stores in the UK and an expansion policy has seen it launch 54 others in Europe over the past year.
The firm was quick to cash in on the boom in “athleisure” casual wear with a sporty flavour — now a £7billion market — which has attracted star fans including WAG Coleen Rooney, 31.
Mr Cowgill said: “That’s a bit of an overplayed term. It is apparel that suits the way lifestyle has developed.”
He told how social media, budget gyms and relaxed door policies at clubs and bars meant the trend had spread wide from London to cities across the North.
“Five years ago trainers were not allowed in many places but they’re far more acceptable now,” he added.
Mr Cowgill said his company was committed to yet further investment in its outdoor business.
Analyst Kate Calvert of INVESTEC put the retailer’s success down to “its continuous cycle of investment into format, retail practices, customer engagement and brand relationships”.