Sports Direct celebrates a double victory

SPORTS Direct has seen a surge in sales and been cleared by a competition commission investigation.

Britain’s largest sports retailer raised its full-year profit guidance yesterday after the sales jump for the 13 weeks to 24 January.

Retail sales rose 9.4 per cent to £326m – lifting gross profit to £136m.

Sports Direct – which is 71 per cent owned by Newcastle United’s Mike Ashley – said the upward trend had continued following the end of the quarter.

The firm owns Lillywhites and Sports World stores which feature brands including Dunlop.

Chief executive David Forsey said: “The board is pleased with the group’s trading performance for the quarter.

“The UK retail division continued to deliver strong results, particularly in online sales at where sales accounted for over five per cent of the total UK revenue.”

In December, the firm said it expected to make underlying pre-tax earnings of at least £155m for the year to April.

But its improving performance encouraged it to ramp up its forecast to at least £160m.

Singer analyst Matthew McEachran said: “Given we feel there could be upside to fourth quarter spending from initial World Cup shopping activity, this is an excellent outcome and increases confidence for the full year.”

Meanwhile, the Competition Commission provisionally cleared the acquisition by the firm of 31 stores from rival JJB Sports.

Commission deputy chairman Diana Guy said: “We have looked at whether consumers in the local areas concerned will be affected by these acquisitions and have provisionally concluded that they are unlikely to lose out.”