Strong sales figures produced a happy Christmas for JD Sports

JD Sports Fashion has continued its run of good form following a strong performance for its sportswear stores over Christmas.

The group, which has more than 800 outlets in four countries, said like-for-like sales at its core business in the 48 weeks to January 4 were marginally better than the rate of 5.8 per cent reported in November.

It hailed a stronger Christmas for its sports stores and said that margins were largely protected despite widespread discounting on the high street.

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JD’s estate also includes outdoor stores under the Blacks and Millets brands and the fashion outlets Bank and Scotts.

The Bury-based company, whose shares have doubled in the last year, added that underlying profits will be in line with current market expectations for the year to January 31. Analysts at Investec have forecast a surplus of £69m, compared with just over £60m a year earlier.

Chairman Peter Cowgill said: “Christmas 2013 has seen yet another very robust performance from our core sports fascias. Throughout recent years of considerable change and expansion for the group, the core sports fascias’ proposition has continued to be developed and enhanced.”

He added that he expects “considerable progress” elsewhere in the group this year as the company looks to continue the turnaround of its outdoor fascias and improve the performance of its loss-making fashion outlets.

There was no comment on trading at Blacks and Millets, although Cantor Fitzgerald said mild weather in December may have affected sales. Analyst Freddie George reiterated his ‘buy’ recommendation.