Back to school sales boost for Sports Direct

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Retail chain Sports Direct set a strong sales pace yesterday after summer trading was lifted by the Olympics and back-to-school demand.

The group, which has nearly 400 stores and owns brands including Slazenger, Donnay and Karrimor, said total revenues jumped 18 per cent to £402.7m in the nine weeks to September 30. This included a rise of 17 per cent to £344.7m in its core sports retail business, where underlying profits increased by a fifth to £142.8m.

The improvement by Sports Direct, which is majority owned by Newcastle United boss Mike Ashley, came in a period when rival JJB Sports conceded defeat in its battle for survival.

Sports Direct bought 20 stores from JJB’s administrators but this meant the closure of another 133 sites with the loss of around 2,200 jobs.

Chief executive Dave Forsey said the period to September was buoyed by demand for products linked to the Olympics and an “excellent” back to school period, while trading has been “equally strong” since then.

He said the company was on track to met its earnings target for the full-year of £270m.

That will be enough to meet the latest annual target for the staff bonus scheme, which this summer saw 2,000 workers paid a £15,000 shares windfall.