A FRENCH sports giant is opening in Brighton - right next to competitor Sports Direct.

Decathlon, which has 30 stores across the UK along with dozens more across Europe, has announced it will open in North Street, Brighton, in October.

It is one of seven new stores the French company is opening across the country. Last year the company opened its first store in Sussex in Crawley.

While Decathlon’s stock appears to be on the rise, its new Brighton neighbour announced a drop in profits yesterday.

Sports Direct announced profits had dropped by almost 60 per cent, something the company blamed on the weaker value of the pound.

The scandal-hit retailer reported a 58.7 per cent tumble in underlying pre-tax profits to £113.7 million for the year to April 30.

Newcastle United owner Mr Ashley said the group had taken action to limit the impact of the pound’s heavy falls against the US dollar, but warned “we remain exposed” to longer-term sterling woes.

Mr Ashley : “We will continue to be conservative in managing for the medium to long term, which may result in short-term fluctuations in underlying EBITDA (earnings), particularly given the continued uncertainty surrounding Brexit.”

The company is still reeling from a number of scandals in recent months. Mr Ashley has been embroiled in a court case this summer with an investment banker over a £15 million deal allegedly struck in a London pub, with Mr Ashley still awaiting the verdict.

Sports Direct also continues to recover from the damage to its reputation after allegations last year over working practices at its Shirebrook headquarters in Derbyshire, with Mr Ashley hauled before MPs for a grilling.

The company said it had “made positive progress across the business as we continue to strive to ensure that all of our people are treated with dignity and respect”.

Decathlon stores are known for stocking equipment for a wide range of sports from the likes of football and rugby to horse riding and kayaking.

It is perhaps best known for its cycling range Btwin, which is particulary popular in its native France.

Other sports the shop caters for include athletics, surfing, shooting, hunting, boxing and martial arts.

As well as opening in Brighton, Decathlon will launch stores in Chingford, Dunstable, Uxbridge, High Wycombe, Beckton and Kensington this year. The company was established in 1976, with the first store in Lille, Northern France.