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Company information

Executive Chairman’s statement

Introduction

I am delighted to report that the Group has delivered another very strong set of results for the year to 30 January 2016 with the headline profit before tax and exceptional items increased by 57% to £157.1 million. Given that last year’s result was a record for our Group then the performance in the year was very pleasing, further demonstrating the increasing influence of the JD fascia in the UK and beyond.

The foundation of our continued success remains our world class core Sports Fashion fascias. The investments made over a number of years in developing our multichannel retail proposition and driving improved buying, merchandising and retailing disciplines have given us the platform to exploit the favourable trends which exist for athletic inspired footwear and apparel throughout Europe. We remain committed to continually enhancing our proposition for both customers and third party brand partners. During the period we demonstrated this through the opening of new larger spaced flagship style JD stores in London, Glasgow, Newcastle and Amsterdam. JD has continued to develop its reputation for setting the highest standards of visual merchandising and retail theatre and the new flagship stores, which also embrace the latest innovations in digital technology, take these standards to a new level.

During the year we have expanded our international presence with additional stores in existing European territories together with a number of stores in new countries. We continue to gain traction in Europe and are confident of the opportunities that exist for the JD fascia in these markets. More recently, we have opened our first store outside of Europe at Sunway Pyramid in Kuala Lumpur as part of a newly formed venture with Stream Enterprise in Malaysia. Opening a store outside of Europe has brought the expected challenges and we continue to enhance the flexibility of both our proposition and our operational processes to cope with the increasing scale of our international ambitions. Our key international brand partners strongly support the continued international development of JD.

In the early part of the year we made a number of operational management changes in our Outdoor operations. This brought the Blacks and Millets and the newer Ultimate Outdoors fascias under common leadership and greater use has been made of the merchandising and commercial management expertise in the core JD team.

Whilst there is a continual requirement to refine the product proposition, we believe that this new operational framework has given our Outdoor fascias a more efficient and appropriate cost base from which to operate and we are optimistic that this, combined with ongoing refinements to the product offering, will deliver a further improvement in the financial performance of these fascias in the year to January 2017.

Dividends and Earnings per Share

The Board proposes paying a final dividend of 6.20p (2015: 5.90p) bringing the total dividend payable for the year to 7.40p (2015: 7.05p) per ordinary share, an increase of 5%. The proposed final dividend will be paid on 1 August 2016 to all shareholders on the register at 24 June 2016. We believe that this level of dividend strikes a fair balance for shareholders with appropriate capital retained to facilitate ongoing developments, particularly investment in the international Sports Fashion fascias, which will drive success for the Group, and increased benefits to shareholders, over the longer term.

The adjusted earnings per ordinary share before exceptional items have increased by 58% to 61.34p (2015: 38.89p).

The basic earnings per ordinary share have increased by 43% to 50.16p (2015: 35.17p).

People

We are fortunate, as a Group, to have talented and committed people in every aspect and level of our business. The record result is principally due to their expertise, energy and passion. I thank everybody involved in all of our businesses for delivering these excellent results.

Current Trading and Outlook

We are encouraged by the continued positive trading across our core fascias in the year to date and the Board continues to believe that the Group is very well positioned for profitable growth.

Our next scheduled update will take place upon the announcement of our Interim Results which is scheduled for 14 September 2016.

 

Peter Cowgill
Executive Chairman
14 April 2016