JD Sports to open up to 1,750 shops over the next five years

JD Sports said it would invest up to £3bn to open as many as 1,750 stores worldwide under plans unveiled by its new chief executive.

Régis Schultz, who took the helm last year, told investors he wanted to turn the £8.8bn company into a “global sports-fashion powerhouse”, sending the shares up 9.2 per cent to 178p in afternoon trading — above pre-pandemic levels.

“We see significant growth opportunities ahead by expanding JD internationally, notably in North America and Europe,” he said.

The retailer will invest between £500mn to £600mn per year into its operations, the bulk of which will go towards expanding its store estate in the US and Europe over the next five years.

Schultz, who laid out his strategy during a capital markets day on Thursday, is also seeking “double digit revenue growth” and “double-digit operating margins” in a bid to double its share in key markets.

It comes after JD Sports predicted that annual profits would top £1bn for the first time for the year ending on February 3, 2024 thanks to strong demand for fashionable trainers and athleisure.

Schultz said that some investment would happen in the UK but emphasised increasing the company’s footprint in the US from 120 stores currently to “700-800”, as well as investing more in France, Germany and Italy.

The former Monoprix chief executive also said that JD Sports was looking to make further acquisitions in order to “expand our footprint in countries that are strategic for us where we don’t operate”.

He succeeded Peter Cowgill, who is widely credited with turning JD Sports into a multibillion pound business by focusing on relationships with key suppliers and growing exposure to the US market. Cowgill was ousted last year, however, amid growing concerns about governance, oversight and succession planning at the company.

The retailer had 3,402 stores globally last January, up from 2,636 sites in 2021.

JD Sports has benefited from shoppers returning to physical shops in droves since the end of pandemic restrictions, outperforming online fashion retailers such as Boohoo, which last month said that its full-year revenue would decline by 12 per cent.

The sports group this week said that it was the victim of a cyber attack that exposed the data of 10mn customers who made purchases between November 2018 and October 2020. 

It said that it was co-operating with the Information Commissioner’s Office and reviewing its cyber security with external specialists. Schultz declined to comment further on Thursday.

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