June 29, 2017 / 10:52 AM / 4 months ago

REFILE-Early Eid clouds JD Sports trading, shares dive

(Adds dropped word ‘update’ in paragraph 3)

LONDON, June 29 (Reuters) - British sportswear retailer JD Sports said its recent trading performance had been distorted by the Eid Muslim festival falling earlier this year, sending its high-flying share price down sharply.

Shares in the seller of trainers and tracksuits, which also highlighted “anticipated margin pressure”, fell up to 12 percent on Thursday, paring its year-on-year gains to 66 percent.

In a trading update ahead of its annual shareholders’ meeting, JD said the earlier timing of Eid this year meant it had brought its clearance, or sale, period forward a week to ensure new season stock was available for the Muslim festival.

Eid, the annual festival following the month-long Ramadan fast, fell on June 25, 10 days earlier than in 2016. JD says the festival is an important period for giving gifts, which helps boost sales at its UK stores.

JD did not publish any trading numbers, saying like-for-like store sale comparisons would not be truly meaningful until the end of its first half on July 29.

It said that by then the impact of timing differences, as well as strong sales during last year’s European soccer Championship would have fully unwound.

“The bears will seize on JD’s unwillingness to give any cumulative like-for-like sales figures,” said independent retail analyst Nick Bubb.

JD, which has exploited growing demand for branded sports shoes and clothes to overtake Sports Direct as the country’s leading sportswear retailer by market value, confirmed that growth to date in like-for-like store sales and significant growth in online sales had been in line with its expectations.

It also said it was on track to deliver 2016-17 results in line with market expectations - a pretax profit of 277 million pounds ($359 million), up from 245 million pounds in 2015-16.

The stock was down 36 pence at 362 at 1008 GMT, valuing the business at 3.5 billion pounds. ($1 = 0.7713 pounds) (Reporting by James Davey; editing by David Clarke)

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