Annual profits at Mike Ashley’s Sports Direct have plunged by 73% after the firm took a £85.4m hit on its holding in Debenhams.
Sports Direct reported profit before tax of £77.5m for the year to 29 April despite revenue rising 3.5% to £3.4bn – boosted by sales outside Europe.
UK sports retail sales fell 2% to £2.2bn while its wholesale and licensing division saw revenues tumble almost 23% to £186.3m.
It was the writedown on the value of its Debenhams holdings that caught the eye.
Sports Direct chief executive and majority shareholder Mr Ashley began building a 29.7% stake in the department store chain in 2017 – stopping short of the 30% threshold that would require moves towards a takeover.
Debenhams has since bled market value – down 64% in the year to date alone – amid the pressures that have been facing the high street.
A surge in costs from wage rules, business rates and rents have combined with tougher times for shoppers to squeeze their finances.
Sports Direct chairman, Keith Hellawell, said: “In terms of statutory reporting, our profit before taxation has reduced by 72.5%, which arises predominantly from the profit on sale of the Dunlop business and the profit on the sale of JD Sports shares included in the results for the prior period and the recognition of the net losses on our strategic investment in Debenhams in the current period.”