Sports Direct proves a winner despite World Cup woes

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Retail chain Sports Direct overcame the impact of England’s disappointing World Cup campaign to maintain its sales momentum over the summer.

The group, which has 400 stores in the UK and a brand portfolio featuring Dunlop, Slazenger, and Everlast, said sales were up 12 per cent to £711.2m in the quarter to July 27.

Gross profit increased 11.8 per cent to £301.2m.

Sports Direct chief executive Dave Forsey said trading has been in line with expectations, with some stronger weeks helping to offset the blow to replica kit sales caused by England’s short appearance at the World Cup.

The business – controlled by Newcastle United owner Mike Ashley – recently reported a 16 per cent jump in profits to £239.5m for the year to April 27.

Underlying earnings were £331m in the last financial year and Sports Direct said yesterday it remained on track to see this figure grow to £360m.

The company believes its performance has gone from “strength to strength” because of a bonus scheme launched in September 2009.

The current four-year share incentive scheme for around 3,000 staff is due to award shop floor workers 34 million shares next year in a payout worth an average of around £80,000 at today’s prices. A scheme last year awarded a typical worker shares worth £68,000. Its brands division posted a drop in revenues.