JD Sports Fashion has always kept a presence in both the sports and fashion sectors. Even its core sports shops, managed under the JD banner, have kept a strong sports fashion component, and they have been the star performers within the retail group. Its controlling shareholder, Pentland Group, has a presence in both sectors as well with its numerous brands, ranging from the likes of Red or Dead to Berghaus and Speedo.

JD Sports Fashion is becoming more JD Sports with its decision to ditch Open, a chain of 11 menswear stores that it had launched last summer. The group is looking for alternative uses for the sites and the employees. Two months ago, it had agreed to sell its struggling young fashion retail chain, Bank, to Hilco Capital. JD's biggest rival, Sports Direct International, declared one of its own fashion retail chains, USC, insolvent, and placed it under the control of Republic, another chain in the same sector.

As reported in our last issue, JD Sports Fashion attributed its recent strong sales increases on comparable store basis to the momentum that its JD sports banner is enjoying, along with its sports business in general. The group has been particularly keen lately on expanding its footprint in the sporting goods sector internationally.

According to the French media, JD has made a firm bid for the takeover of about 100 stores managed by Bata, the big international shoe retailer, in France, where it owns the Chausport chain and operates 29 stores. Many of these shoe stores are in excellent locations. As reported in Shoe Intelligence, Bata placed its French subsidiary and its 136 stores in receivership a few weeks ago. The bankruptcy court is expected to make a choice among the takeover offers made by JD and three other candidates on Feb. 10, and JD's proposal seems to be the most interesting one at this stage.

JD has also expanded into the Netherlands, Germany and Spain. It has been investing strongly with its Spanish partners in Sprinter, a jointly-owned chain of sporting goods shops. It added 14 new Sprinter stores in the course of last year, for a total additional selling surface of 11,535 square meters, according to a report from Spain. A few weeks ago it opened its 75th Sprinter store in Sevilla.