Sports Direct sees sales forge ahead

SPORTS Direct said yesterday it would meet its target for full-year profit, with trading still strong after a positive third quarter.

The firm, controlled by Newcastle United owner Mike Ashley, said total sales for the 13 weeks to 23 January increased 12.1 per cent to £416m.

“Since the end of January, the group’s underlying performance has continued to be strong, especially within the UK retail division,” chief executive Dave Forsey said.

“Therefore we shall reach our full-year targeted underlying earnings before tax, interest, depreciation and amortisation [EBITDA] of £205m before the charge for the bonus share scheme.”

Hitting profit targets will trigger an estimated £10.8m pay-out for staff through its bonus scheme,

Under the scheme some 2,000 of its staff will receive up to 75 per cent of their salary paid in shares, if the group meets its target for the year to April.

Shares were up almost five per cent after the announcement in which the company, also revealed that gross profits rose eight per cent to £167m in the quarter.

Matthew McEachran, an analyst at Singer Capital Markets, said: “The third quarter statement has come in well ahead of forecast, driven mainly by UK retail sales growth.

He added: “This is despite the very tough prevailing conditions.” The stock closed 4.3 per cent up at 166p.