Sports Direct hits record profit rise

<p>Sports Direct has seen a 15 per cent rise in pre-tax profits.</p>

Sportswear retailer Sports Direct has enjoyed a significant boost its pre-tax profits.

The company, founded by Newcastle United owner Mike Ashley, announced a "record" 15 per cent rise in annual pre-tax profits taking them to £239.5 million for the year to April 17th 2014. Total group sales were also on the increase to £2.7 billion, a 23.8 per cent rise for the £2.1 billion seen in the same period last year.

Sports Direct had seen a boost in the build-up to the World Cup with people flocking to stores to buy replica shirts and other paraphernalia but, like many other retailers across the UK, experienced a drop in sales once England were eliminated in the group stages. Like-for-like sales were also up on the previous year by 10.5 per cent, although it cut out sales at stores open for less than a year.

Dave Forsey, chief executive of Sports Direct, said: "This success is underpinned by our core strategy, offering our customers a wide range of products which represent exceptional quality and unbeatable value.

"Overall trading since the year-end has been in line with management's expectations, with some stronger weeks offset by England's disappointing World Cup matches."

Sports Direct's sales figures boost comes after Mr Ashley decided to withdraw from a bonus scheme that had been criticised by members of the board. The founder surprisingly backed out of the controversial initiative despite executive making a concerted effort to persuade shareholders to approve the deal.

The announcement confirmed that Mr Ashley would now not approach shareholders again regarding remuneration until 2019 but up to 3,000 other employees would still share the £200 million equity bonus scheme. Sports Direct refused to confirm how much the pot would be allocated to Mr Ashley, who does not take a salary from the company.

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