JD Sports kicks profits into touch

The company could have to pay up to 10% of its sales figures if the Office of Fair Trading confirms its ruling that it infringed competition law.

Last month JD Sports was accused of fixing the prices of Umbro replica football kits along with ten other companies and the Football Association.

An OFT spokesman said: ‘If we find they had breached competition law the penalties we can inflict could be up to 10% of the company’s UK turnover.’

But he added the final decision will be made in the autumn and the companies have nine weeks to respond to the allegations.

Although the company has not yet responded, a hefty fine would make a hole in otherwise promising results.

JD Sports’ interim results indicated a turnover growth of 18% and pre-tax profits up by 16% on the same period last year.

And the company remained optimistic about its future, saying its sales performance in the weeks following the interims had continued to grow despite slower business October.

Finance director Malcolm Blackhurst has been keeping an eye on his company’s expansion in a year which saw it open 18 new stores and closed three smaller ones.

JD chairman John Wardle said: ‘The board remains confident that our differentiated and branded merchandise, together with a continued strategic focus, will ensure that the long-term prospects of the company remain strong.’

Analysts expressed doubts about the company’s figures over the Christmas period, as it reported only a 3% increase in like-for-like sales in the period to 5 January.

But they regained confidence in the company’s future after JD announced it is buying competitor Black’s Leisure’s sports and fashion division for £53.2m.

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