Dave Whelan Sports toasts ‘excellent’ year

X The Business Desk

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DAVE Whelan Sports Ltd, the fitness clubs and sports shops business owned by the eponymous veteran businessman and Wigan Athletic chairman, made “excellent progress” in its last financial year.

The Wigan company, spun out of the now failed JJB Sports by Mr Whelan in 2009, grew sales at its gyms and stores as turnover in the  year to April 1 2012 grew from £139.4m to £143.1m. Sales at the 66 fitness clubs rose from £79m to £85.2m and in the DW Sports retail stores from £57.8m to £60.3m.

Despite the tough retail and consumer environment the business posted healthy increases in ebitda, up 53%  at £15.6m and pre-tax profits 95% ahead at £7.4m compared with £3.8m in 2011.

The accounts, recently filed at Companies House, reveal the business has whelanborrowings of £100m, of which nearly 80%, (£79.4m) is owed to 76-year-old Mr Whelan and his family and associated trusts.

After buying JJB’s fitness clubs three in 2009, the business has grown steadily, opening more than 12 new gyms since the acquisition. The company also took on a naming rights deal at Wigan Athletic’s stadium, which it pays £250,000 a year for.

In a review of the year’s trading, directors said: “The financial period to April 1 2012 has seen the group make excellent progress despite the difficult economic environment. The group continues with its objective to provide premium value for money, exceptional fitness facilities to all members and supply high quality sports and leisure clothing, footwear and accessories at competitive prices.”

During the year, new gyms and shops were opened in Ipswich, Blackpool and Liverpool, while a fitness club in Preston was acquired from another operator.

Gross margins increased from 70.8% to 73.6% and net assets increased from £6.2m to £11.8m.