JD Sports "back on track" after seasonal lift

JD Sports Fashion said it was on track beat the City’s profit expectations for the year after enjoying a festive boost.

Like-for-like sales rose 6.6 per per cent in the five weeks to January 6, driven by the performance of its fashion-focused chains Bank and Scotts, where trading rose 9.7 per cent.

The group said it was set to "significantly exceed" full-year pre-tax profit estimates from analysts – which have hovered around £56m – but warned the snow posed a threat.

“The extent to which this occurs is still dependent on the impact of the prevailing severe weather conditions in the UK,” the company said.

The Christmas trading helped like-for-like sales for the 48 weeks to January 2 grow 2.7 per cent, while profit margins improved “marginally”.

Executive chairman Peter Cowgill said: "This has been the result of our strong product proposition and a lot of hard work from employees throughout the business."

The group - which had 343 sportswear stores and 95 fashion outlets as of August - has seen its "athletic-inspired" fashion offerings pay off during the recession, as it has fared better than rivals more dependent on kit sales.

Singer Capital Markets' Mark Photiades said: "The growth seen in fashion is very encouraging, as we believe that going forward the fashion division will be one of the main growth drivers for the group, primarily via the acquired Bank chain."