Good start for town’s retail giant

Mansfield-based retail giant Sports Direct has put in another strong group performance during the first half of the financial year.

An almost £260m surge in EBITDA to £1.35bn was aided by the sporting goods chain’s continued expansion in Europe, where it is now active in 19 countries.

A 12.3 per cent increase to £183.3m in top line earnings meant the company is on track to meet its target and trigger another round of employee bonuses.

Full-time staff bagged a £112m bonus in August through the group’s incentive scheme.

Sports Direct’s pre-tax profit in the six months to 27 October 2013 jumped from £125.2m, in the same period in 2012, to £143.1m.

Chief executive Dave Forsey said: “The group’s expansion in Europe has also continued with acquisitions in Austria and the Baltic states. The integration of these acquisitions is progressing and we continue to look for further opportunities across Europe.

“While we retain the ability to invest in margin, inventory and group marketing to deliver long-term sustainable growth, the board is confident of achieving at least our full-year internal underlying EBITDA target of £310m, before the charge for the employee bonus share scheme.”

Online sales grew by 43 per cent and now contribute 15.5 per cent of total sports retail sales, up from 12.5 per cent in 2012. UK sales were up 13.4 per cent to £903.3m.

International sports stores turnover climbed by 30.8 per cent, excluding acquisition in Austria and the Baltic, to £118.5m, with new additions contributing £87.7m on top of the figure.