No use without permission. More JD Sports' stock has stormed to record highs after the sportswear retailer smashed analysts' forecasts with an 80pc leap in profits and drew a line under a controversy relating to conditions atits main warehouse. Peter Cowgill, executive chairman, said the sportswear revival was a "cultural shift" that was driven by "Instagram, selfies and a rising gym culture". "There are more low-cost budget gyms than ever before and people have become more casual," he said. "You see them wearing trainers in urban bars and restaurants". JD Sports posted an 81pc jump in pre-tax profits to 238.4m for the52 weeks ended January 28,compared to 131.6m in the previous year. Sales rose by a third to 2.4bn from 1.8bn, helped by 53 new shops openingacross Europe. View photos JD Sports stocks exclusive ranges from brands including Ellesse, Reebok and Nike More It also opened two more stores in Malaysia, while its first Australian outlet is due to open shortly. JD Sports is now worth two and a half times as much as arch-rival Sports Direct, controlled by Mike Ashley, who threatened to "finish off" the sportswear chainsix years ago. The reversal in fortunes was not lost on Mr Cowgill, who said that he had believed it was a "throwaway remark that I always took with a pinch of salt... he didn't get it quite right, though". Analysts have highlighted the growing gulf between JD Sports and Sports Direct, which failed to spot and take advantage of the booming athleisurewear trend. Whilst the trainer trend tailwind has been off the Beaufort scale, JD has sailed it skilfully," said Peel Hunt analyst Jonathan Pritchard.
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