Easter trading helps sports store hit goals

STRONG trading over the Easter holidays means Sports Direct is on track to meet its full-year earnings forecast, Britain's biggest sporting goods retailer said yesterday.

The group, controlled by Newcastle United football club owner Mike Ashley, said sales rose a shade under 3 per cent to 214 million in the nine weeks to 28 March. Gross profits climbed 7.9 per cent to 82m.

David Forsey, Sports Direct's chief executive, said: "The retail division has seen robust Easter holiday trading against tough comparators and we look forward to a successful football World Cup on and off the field."

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The company, which has twice lifted its underlying 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.

Sports Direct raised expectations for full-year earnings in February after previously increasing the target from 140m to 155m in December.

Forsey said: "We continue to be pleased with the strong performance of our retail division."