StockMarketWire.com - Sportswear retailer JD Sports defied the gloomy UK retail backdrop as first-half profits jumped supported by growth in its core UK and Ireland market, though the retailer left profit expectations unchanged.

In the 26 weeks to 4 August, profit before tax rose 19% to £121.9m, group revenues rose 35% to £1.85bn on higher gross margins of 48.2%, up from 47.4% a year ago.

Like for like store sales for the period across the group's fascias, including those in Europe and in Asia Pacific, were flat but the overall like for like growth for the same fascias, including online, increased by more than 3%.

Like for like store sales across the global Sports Fashion fascias were marginally positive in the period with total like for like sales, including online, growing by 4%.

Sales were also boosted by the opening of 44 new JD Sports shops during the period and the company plans to open 18 new shops a week across mainland Europe in the second half of the year.

The retailer said it was 'confident' of meeting full-year analysts profit forecasts for the full year, which was in the range of £337m to £345m.

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