Sports Direct to hit profit forecast

Sports Direct, Britain's biggest sporting goods retailer, posted a two per cent rise in first-half profit and said it was on track to meet its target for the year.

The firm, controlled by Newcastle United owner Mike Ashley, said it was confident of reaching its full year target for underlying earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) and before costs for a staff bonus scheme, of £215m.

"We believe our Employee Bonus Share Schemes continues to underpin our performance," said Chief Executive Dave Forsey.

Sports Direct made underlying EBITDA before staff bonus scheme costs of £139.2m in the 26 weeks to 23 October, up from £136.5m in the same period last year.

The firm, which owns Sports World and Lillywhites stores as well as brands including Slazenger, Lonsdale and Dunlop, said revenue rose 8.4 per cent to £888.6m.

"This strong performance yet again demonstrates the success of our unique and resilient business model, and was delivered against both a tough FIFA World Cup comparison last year and an especially fragile consumer environment," said Forsey.

The firm cut its net debt by 23.3 per cent to £114.3m but is not paying a dividend.

Sports Direct is looking for a boost to trade in 2012 from the European football championships and London Olympics.