Life Style Sports, the family-owned retailer with about 53 stores in the Irish Republic, has recorded stunning growth in its latest financial statements, breaching the €100 million annual sales barrier for the first time.
The group, which is owned by members of the Wexford-based Stafford family who also control Campus Oil, reported sales of €101 million in the year to near the end of September 2016, the accounts for which have just been filed.
This is a 9 per cent increase on the performance of the previous year, and also does not include the group’s eight stores in Northern Ireland.
Life Style’s profits after tax rose by close to 70 per cent in the Republic, coming in at close to €6.4 million.
The performance of Life Style, fuelled by strong consumer spending in a revitalised domestic economy, helped finance €2 million of dividend payments to members of the Stafford family from its parent group, Stafford Holdings.
Since the period covered by the financial statements, however, competition in the sports apparel and footwear market has stiffened with the arrival in Dublin of Mike Ashley’s first standalone Sports Direct store on North Earl Street, in the building that previous housed Boyers.
Life Style may also be affected when French sports giant Decathlon – dubbed the Ikea of sportswear retailing – enters the Irish market as planned. The Irish Times revealed this week that Decathlon is planning up to nine warehouse-style stores across the State in coming years.
Mark Stafford, the chief executive of the Stafford group, did not make himself available for comment on Tuesday.
The wider Stafford group, which in addition to Campus also includes property and shipping interests, recorded sales of €315 million in the year to the end of September 2016, according to accounts filed.
Stafford Group, which employs the equivalent of close to 600 full-time staff, saw its profits before tax spike by 45 per cent to almost €8.5 million. Its financial statements also noted the “forgiveness” of more than €10.5 million of debt owed by Montagh Investments, a Stafford family-owned property company.
The Stafford Holdings accounts also outline that rental payments by the business on properties owned by members of the Stafford family totalled €471,000.
They also reveal that Campus Oil was in November 2016 hived off from Stafford Holdings into Taghmon Investments, an unlimited company that is owned by the Staffords.
The real financial engine of the group remains Life Style, however, which has branched out into general leisure wear.
In December it also launched a marketing campaign to promote itself as “Trainer Central”. Sports Direct is also targeting the market for selling runners, however.