Covid-19: JD Sports to focus on eCommerce following pandemic

JD Sports has reported revenue growth of 30% in the 52 weeks up to 1 February 2020, underpinned by its multichannel operations, with its online and in-store businesses enjoying double-digit growth for the period.

Immediately following this period, during the Covid-19 lockdown, the brand said its eCommerce business “delivered a very resilient performance”. JD Sports has increasingly relied upon its digital channel during the crisis, with 98% of its global physical store estate closed at one stage. And it intends to expand its digital capacity going forward, stating that “it is perhaps inevitable that there will be some level of permanent transfer from physical retail to online as a consequence of Covid-19”.

The group also revealed that earlier plans to open one store per week on average across Europe are being scaled back as a result of the crisis, and expects the number of new openings this year to be significantly reduced.

Peter Cowgill, executive chairman at JD Sports said: "We were encouraged by the continued positive trading in the early weeks of the year prior to the emergence of Covid-19 and we firmly believe that we are well placed to regain our previous momentum. Looking longer term, there is inevitably considerable uncertainty as to what the effect of Covid-19 will be on consumer behaviour and footfall with future store investments highly dependent on rental realism and lease flexibility.

“Ultimately, however, we remain confident that we have a market leading multi-channel proposition which has the necessary flexibility and agility to prosper within a retail environment that may see profound and permanent structural change."

The sports fashion brand also revealed it is applying for a judicial review into the Competitions and Markets Authority (CMA) decision to block its acquisition of FootAsylum in May. JD Sports said it “fundamentally disagrees with the conclusion reached by the CMA” that the deal would significantly reduce market competition “as it fails to take proper account of the dynamic and rapidly evolving competitive landscape in which the group operates”.