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Sports Direct keeps its eye on the ball with strong sales

SPORTS Direct Britain’s biggest sporting goods retailer, is on track to meet its full-year earnings forecast after strong trading over the Easter holidays, it said yesterday.

The group, controlled by Newcastle United soccer club boss Mike Ashley, said sales rose 2.9 per cent to £214m in the nine weeks ended 28 March, with gross profits climbing 7.9 per cent to £82m.

“The retail division has seen robust Easter holiday trading against tough comparators and we look forward to a successful football World Cup both on and off the field,” said chief executive David Forsey.

Sports Direct, which has twice lifted its earnings guidance for the year ending 25 April, said it remained confident of achieving its latest forecast for earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation of at least £160m.

An annual earnings figure above £155m will mean payouts under a share bonus scheme introduced last summer to keep staff motivated.

The company is expecting a sales boost from the World Cup next month with kit sales and football gear expected to fly off the shelves.

The group has 371 stores across the UK as well as 63 abroad – with more than 16,000 staff employed across the globe.