September 15, 2017 / 6:34 AM / 10 months ago

JD Sports enters South Korean market with Hot-T investment

LONDON (Reuters) - British sportswear retailer JD Sports Fashion (JD.L) said on Friday it had continued its global expansion with a joint venture deal to enter the South Korean market.

People pass a JD Sports store in London, Britain April 11, 2017. REUTERS/Neil Hall

JD said its agreement was with footwear retailer Shoemarker and its J&S Partners unit, which currently trades as Hot-T.

The British firm has purchased an initial 15 percent of Hot-T for 5.5 million pounds and has a call option to buy a further 35 percent stake following the finalisation of Hot-T’s year to Dec. 31 2017 accounts.

JD said it intends to exercise the option and re-brand the Hot-T stores as JD, though the business would continue to be operationally run by its existing management team.

Hot-T has 23 stores and a website. Its revenue in 2016 was about 17.2 million pounds.

“We are delighted to be entering into this JV which gives JD the opportunity to enter a new market of over 50 million people with a proven operator,” said JD’s Executive Chairman Peter Cowgill.

“This JV will further strengthen JD’s global presence.”

JD, which published record half year results on Tuesday, currently operates in the UK, Ireland, France and Spain.

“It is not a major surprise that South Korea has become the latest country to attract JD’s interest and we have no doubt that this will all be done with the big brands’ backing,” said analysts at Peel Hunt, who have a “buy” stance on the stock.

They believe JD could expand further into Asia and possibly eventually enter the U.S..

Shares in JD, up 30 percent over the last year, were up 0.2 percent at 373.1 pence at 0716 GMT, valuing the business at 3.6 billion pounds.

Reporting by James Davey, Editing by Paul Sandle

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