Sterling collapse hammers Sports Direct

Sports Direct has warned it will be 'impacted significantly' by the collapse in sterling as it reported a dip in profits for the full year.

Thursday, 7th July 2016, 10:16 am
Updated Thursday, 7th July 2016, 11:17 am
File photo dated 06/01/16 of a sign above the Sports Direct store in Oxford Street, London, as Sports Direct will give more details on the hit from the record post-Brexit plunge in the pound when it posts annual figures today. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Thursday July 7, 2016. The results come after an eventful past few months for the group, which has been forced to warn over profits and seen its founder Mike Ashley appear in front of MPs to answer questions on the firm's working practices. See PA story CITY SportsDirect. Photo credit should read: Nick Ansell/PA Wire

Core earnings at the retailer fell 0.5​ per cent​ to £381.4​m​ and the firm, run by billionaire tycoon Mike Ashley, said the pound’s plunge against the dollar would take a toll on margins this year.

On a underlying pre-tax basis, profits fell 8.4​ per cent​ to £275.2​m. Sales were up 2.5​ per cent​ to £2.9​bn.

The company said: “Since the EU vote we expect the current political uncertainty, and potential weakness in the UK’s short to medium term economic outlook, is likely to act as a continuing drag on consumer confidence.

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“When combined with the structural difficulties for UK retailers, including high street footfall, and our exposure to the weakness of the pound against the US dollar (as announced on June 2​4​), these factors make the current outlook for full year 2017 somewhat uncertain and therefore hard to predict.

“We expect gross margin to be impacted significantly by negative movements in exchange rates in ​20​17 and beyond, given the recent movements in the US dollar compared with the pound.”

Unlike many other businesses, Sports Direct is not hedged against currency movements, meaning the weak pound will impact its product buying power.

Sports Direct also said Mr Ashley has “no current intention of taking the company private”.

He was grilled by MPs last month over the retailer’s working practices, and the firm said it has “set in motion a review of the specific concerns”.

Unite’s assistant general secretary Steve Turner said: “It is clear that shameful work practices have not only battered Sports Direct’s reputation, but are seriously harming its profits and share price.

“The Victorian employment practices of Transline and The Best Connection at Sports Direct’s warehouse would shame the pages of a Dickens novel and should have no place in 21st century Britain.”​