JD Sports warns UK stores ‘likely’ to be closed until at least Easter

JD Sports has said its UK stores are “likely” to be shut until at least Easter as it hailed better-than-expected trading.

The sportswear retailer also said closures of its stores in other countries are “possible at any time” as it warned that Covid-19 continues to create an uncertain outlook.

However, it said its profits for the current financial year will be “significantly ahead” of forecasts amid strong customer demand.

The company told shareholders that it expects to post a headline pre-tax profit of at least £400 million for the year to January 30, surpassing previous expectations of around £295 million.

JD Sports said it was buoyed by “robust” demand in the second half of the year, including during the key months of November and December.

Total revenues, on a like-for-like basis, rose by more than 5% in the 22 weeks to January 2 compared with the same period last year.

The retailer said customers “readily switched” between its stores and online business in the run-up to Christmas.

JD Sports warned that the pandemic means there is still considerable uncertainty but said it expects profits in the next financial year to be between 5% and 10% higher than the current year.

In a statement to the stock market, it said: “Looking ahead, it is clear that operational restrictions from the Covid-19 pandemic will also be a material factor through at least the first quarter of the year to January 22 2022.

“Whilst we are confident that we have the proposition to continue to attract consumers throughout this period, the process to scale down activity in stores and scale up the digital channels, often at extremely short notice, presents significant challenges.

“We are indebted to all of our colleagues in our different territories who have had to adopt new ways of working.”