Profit margins prove Direct hit

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Retailer Sports Direct reported a rise in its third-quarter gross profits, as stronger profit margins helped offset weaker than expected sales growth caused by a poor winter season for its Austrian business.

Britain’s biggest seller of sporting goods, controlled by founder and Newcastle United football club owner Mike Ashley, said gross profit for the 13 weeks to January 25 increased 7.6 per cent to £346.9m.

The rise was helped by an increase in the gross margin of 2.8 percentage points at its core retail sports business, which has over 420 UK stores and another 270 in continental Europe.