JD Sports withholds rent on its UK stores as it battles with landlords

Tracksuit and trainers retailer JD Sports is continuing its battle with landlords, despite its half-year sales barely being touched by the pandemic.

Revenues dipped just 6.5 per cent in the six months to August 1, as its focus on ‘athleisure’ hit the spot.

Executive chairman Peter Cowgill credited demand from younger customers, who wanted to ‘get out and socialise’, for keeping sales above the levels seen at other fashion chains.

Rent battle: Revenues at tracksuit and trainers retailer dipped just 6.5 per cent in the six months to August 1, as its focus on 'athleisure' hit the spot

Rent battle: Revenues at tracksuit and trainers retailer dipped just 6.5 per cent in the six months to August 1, as its focus on 'athleisure' hit the spot

Rent battle: Revenues at tracksuit and trainers retailer dipped just 6.5 per cent in the six months to August 1, as its focus on ‘athleisure’ hit the spot

But JD, which also owns Go Outdoors, Blacks Leisure and Millets, is refusing to cut landlords any slack – by withholding rent on its 390 UK stores to draw landlords into negotiations to cut rent.

Cowgill said of the fight: ‘Some people say it’s like wading through treacle but it’s thicker than that. 

It’s amazing that there has not been a recognition of the channel shifts that are occurring.’

Customers are increasingly shopping online rather than in stores and many city centres are now quieter than ever.

Profit slid to £41.5million in the six months to August, from £129.9million over the same period in 2019.

Shares jumped up 9.8 per cent, or 71.2p, to 705.8p yesterday.

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