Mike Ashley's clothing empire Sports Direct is toasting a surge in profits after higher sales over Christmas.
The Newcastle United owner’s business reported a quarterly profit of £280.7m for the 13 weeks to February 18, an increase of 14.6%.
Shares went up more than 5% in early trading as a result and closed even higher – at 772.50p and a rise of 7.89%.
Group sales for the 13 weeks to 26 January soared through Sports Retail, increasing 11.2% to £655.4m from the £589.5m posted for the same period in 2013.
Sports Retail sales in the period increased 6.9% to £529.9m and Sports Retail gross profit also increased 12.9% to £230.0m, and square footage for UK Sport Retail
grew to around 4.2m sq ft.
Sales also soared in the Premium Lifestyle division by an impressive 52.5% to £71.2m and the Brands division saw revenue increase by 15.5% to £54.3m.
Earlier last year Sports Direct make several acquisitions as it sought to expand its offering, including buyouts of Sports Eybl & Sports Experts AG and Sportland International Group AS, which were acquired on 26 June 2013 and 12 August 2013 respectively, but the figures posted don’t include the acquired firms’ sales and gross profits.
Turnover and gross profit from Republic, acquired last February, is however included in the current period figures.
Dave Forsey, chief executive of Sports Direct International plc, welcomed the figures. He said: “Despite tougher comparisons during the period, Sports Retail continues to perform well driven by our on-going focus on exceptional quality, unbeatable value and availability.
“Online also performed strongly with non-UK online gross profit contribution expected to be greater than the UK equivalent by the end of this financial year.
“While we retain the ability to invest in margin, inventory and Group marketing to deliver long-term sustainable growth, the board is very confident of achieving at least our full-year internal underlying EBITDA target of £310m, before the charge for the Employee Bonus Share Scheme.”
The group’s preliminary results will be announced in July.