July 22, 2013, 11:43 AM

Greater brand awareness translates into bigger U.K. e-commerce sales for Sports Direct

Web sales for the British sporting goods chain increased 52% in fiscal 2013.

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It was a good fiscal 2013 online and overall for Sports Direct International PLC, which operates one of the biggest sporting goods retail chains in the United Kingdom.

For the 2013 fiscal year ended April 28, Sports Direct, No. 94 in Internet Retailer’s 2013 Europe 500 reported:

  • Online sales grew 51.7% to about $360.2 million (236 million pounds) from $237.5 million (156 million pounds) in fiscal 2012.
  • Total sports retail sales increased 17.2% to $2.39 billion (1.57 billion pounds) from $2.04 billion (1.34 billion pounds) in fiscal 2012.
  • Total revenue, which includes some non-sports apparel and wholesale revenue, increased 23% to about $3.02 billion (1.98 billion pounds) from $2.45 billion (1.61 billion pounds).
  • Gross profit increased 22.7% to about $1.22 billion (801 million pounds) from $994.3 million (652 million pounds). The retailer didn’t break out net income.
  • The web accounted for 15.1% of total retail sports sales compared with 11.6% in fiscal 2012.
  • The web accounted for 11.9% of all sales in fiscal 2013 compared with 9.7% in fiscal 2012.

“Our online business continues to benefit from the group’s brand recognition and investment in online product range and availability,” says Sports Direct CEO David Forsey.

Sports Direct has launched several recent initiatives to increase its e-commerce business and brand awareness, especially with younger and more active athletes in the U.K, Forsey says. Over the last 18 months the company renamed 326 stores from Sports Direct to SportsDirect.com to identify more closely with younger online shoppers, the company says. Along with the name change, the merchant also added 1 million square feet of fulfillment space near its corporate headquarters outside of London to pick, pack and ship Internet orders, and added a buy online, pick up in store program, also known in Europe as click and collect.

Another way Sports Direct will promote its brand is by becoming a magazine publisher. In May, Sports Direct launched Sportsdirect.com magazine, a monthly publication that will focus on sport and fitness. Consumers can buy the publication in Sports Direct stores and via a tablet application, which will allow readers to shop from the magazine’s editorial pages, the merchant says

“Online remains a significant growth opportunity,” Forsey says.

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