Britain's JD Sports Fashion is entering the lucrative US market after agreeing to buy Finish Line for $558m in cash, the sportswear retailer said today. 

Growing demand for branded sports shoes and clothes has enabled JD Sports to overtake Sports Direct as Britain's leading sportswear retailer by market value. 

Its move into the largest sportswear market is its boldest yet, increasing JD Sports' importance to international brands, particularly Nike and Adidas. 

Nasdaq-listed Finish Line is one of the largest retailers of premium multi-branded athletic footwear, clothing and accessories in the US, trading from 556 branded retail stores across 44 states and Puerto Rico and online. 

JD Sports has expanded overseas in recent years, gaining a presence in France, Spain and South Korea. 

"This is a landmark day for JD and will be transformational for the business. It immediately offers a major presence in the US, a clear next step to further increase our global scale," its executive chairman Peter Cowgill said.

Finish Line is also the exclusive retailer of athletic shoes, both in-store and online, for Macy's, operating 375 branded and 188 unbranded concessions within Macy's stores. 

Its revenue in the year to March 3 2018 was $1.84 billion. 

Analysts said the deal will enhance JD's relationships with the big manufacturers, especially Nike, which represents 71% of Finish Line’s sales. 

JD Sports has agreed to pay $13.50 per share for Finish Line, compared to its $10.55 close on Friday, which gave it a market capitalisation of $425m compared to JD Sports' £3.5 billion value. 

The British firm is funding the deal through a new revolving credit facility and a new asset backed lending facility secured against Finish Line's inventory and receivables. 

JD Sports forecast the acquisition would make a small incremental positive contribution to its results and earnings per share in the year to February 2, 2019. 

The deal, which requires the approval of both companies' shareholders, is expected to complete no earlier than June.