Sports Direct proves Olympics winner

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MIKE Ashley’s sportswear empire jumped to a record profit yesterday after enjoying a “significant” sales boost from the London Olympics and Paralympics.

Sports Direct International, which is majority owned by Newcastle United backer Mr Ashley, said half-year revenues were up 22.5 per cent to just over £1bn amid strong growth in its 398 UK shops and branded sportswear division. Pre-tax profits rose by a quarter to £125.2m in the six months to October 28, with the UK’s sporting summer playing a major role in boosting demand.

Chief executive Dave Forsey said: “There is no doubt that Team GB’s outstanding performance has helped increase the awareness and popularity of sport across the UK, and that we have maintained our position as the consumers’ champion.”

The latest improvement for Sports Direct came in a period when rival JJB Sports conceded defeat in its battle for survival.

Sports Direct bought 20 stores from JJB’s administrators but this meant the closure of another 133 sites with the loss of around 2,200 jobs.