As part of its global expansion bid, UK retailer JD Sports Fashion has entered the South Korean market after inking a joint venture with footwear retailer Shoemarker (SMK) and its J&S Partners unit, which currently trades as Hot-T.

As part of the deal, JD has acquired an initial 15% of Hot-T for a cash consideration of about GBP5.5m (US$7.5m) with a call option, exercisable at JD's discretion, to acquire a further 35% following the finalisation of Hot-T's accounts for its financial year ending 31 December 2017.

The retailer of sports, fashion and outdoor brands says it intends to exercise this option and to re-fascia the Hot-T stores as JD, with the business continuing to be run by its existing management team.

"We are delighted to be entering into this JV which gives JD the opportunity to enter a new market of over 50m people with a proven operator," says JD's executive chairman Peter Cowgill. "This JV will further strengthen JD's global presence."

Hot-T, a multi-branded footwear retailer in the athletic speciality sector, currently has 23 stores in South Korea and its own website. In 2016, it revenue totalled about GBP17.2m. SMK also operates Shoemarker, a multi-branded footwear retailer in the sporting goods sector, with 114 stores in South Korea.

Earlier this week, JD revealed how a continued demand for athletic leisure products helped drive a 33% jump in pre-tax profits and achieve a new record for the first half of the year.

Athleisure demand drives JD Sports HY profit