JD Sports was established in 1981 with a single store, John David Sports, in Bury, Greater Manchester. Two years later it had expanded into the Arndale Centre in Manchester with further openings in the North and Midlands in the 1980s.
The first London store followed on Oxford Street in 1989 and JD had 56 stores when it listed in 1996 at just under 15p a share.
In 2002, it acquired almost 200 more stores by taking over the First Sport chain. Since 2005, JD has been controlled by the private Pentland Group, which owns sports and fashion brands including Speedo and Ellesse. (Pentland owns 49% of the shares though the business remains listed).
JD Sports has seen phenomenal revenue growth over recent years, riding the wave of sportswear and athleisure and 2018 and 2019 has found the chain in acquisitive mood.
In 2018 it made the move into the US market with the acquisition of the Finish Line chain, and some of the stores have already been rebranded as JD Sports.
In March 2019 it acquired smaller AIM-listed rival Footasylum for £90m (a significant discount on Footasylum's £171m valuation when it floated in October 2017).
In April 2019 it acquired the brand, e-commerce business and Manchester flagship store of Liam Gallagher's Pretty Green brand (it later emerged that it had paid just £1.5m for it), which had been placed into administration. The deal led to the closure of 11 Pretty Green stores and 33 concessions within branches of House of Fraser.
Later in the month it revealed record numbers for the year to 2 February with sales up nearly 50% at £4.2bn with pre-tax profits up 15% to £340m.