JD Sports Fashion Plc has said it is “encouraged” by the early performance of its UAE-based acquisition of GymNation as it reported a group-wide profit fall in the first half of 2022.

JD Sports reported a pre-tax profit of £364.6 million (AED 1.5 bilIion) for the six months to July 31, down by 18% year-on-year.

The acquisition, of GymNation by subsidiary JD Gyms in February was touted as a springboard to opportunities across the GCC region.

In financial statements posted to London Stock Exchange (LSE) today, JD Sports said GymNation is operating seven gyms in the UAE, with upcoming openings in Downtown Dubai and Sharjah.

JD Sports owns 78.2% of GymNation, the statement said, with the remaining 21.8% owned by founder management.

JD Sports now has 77 gyms across the UK, 66 operating as JD Gyms, with the remaining X4L outlets expected to also be rebranded as JD Gyms, the company said in notes published alongside its results.

The company has been in the UK news this week, after it was revealed it is to pay former boss Peter Cowgill £5.5 million over three years in a “golden goodbye” agreement, which will prevent him setting up a rival retailer, The Guardian reported.

(Reporting by Imogen Lillywhite; editing by Seban Scaria)