Sportswear retailer JD Sports today announced a seven per cent rise in sales in its core UK and Ireland business this year and said that performance is in line with expectations.
The division, which made a loss of £14.9 million in its last financial year to February, had to sacrifice margins in order to achieve the positive like-for-like sales figure, with the return to profitability still a "work in progress".
It added that the UK and Ireland figures now include Irish retailer Champion, which is now largely serviced from the UK.
The group's outdoor fascias, which comprise Blacks and Millets, recorded positive like-for-like sales, but it said this was achieved at "a significant margin sacrifice".
The UK firm said that fashion lines Bank and Scotts had seen sales decline by five per cent over the 18 weeks ended 8 June.
JD said: "We expect the outdoor fascias to make a substantial but significantly reduced loss in the current year with the biggest improvement coming in the second half."
The Bury-based company has already admitted that the challenge of reviving the Blacks business, which it bought out of administration for £20m in January 2012, has been tougher than expected.
It has closed more than 120 stores in the last year as it looks to eliminate a high rent bill by targeting an estate of around 140 outlets.
The company also recently announced a reprieve for the Millets name, which it now views as a good outlet for its own brands Peter Storm and Eurohike.
JD said it expects to see the benefit from the appointment of the new head of ladieswear later this year.
JD added that the results for the distribution division in the first half will be hit by the disposal of the Canterbury rugby brand and the impact of former rival retailer JJB's disappearance from the market.
Follow us on Twitter @CandMResearch
Companiesandmarkets.com issues news updates and report summaries covering all major industries and sectors. The service provides additional client monitoring and timely alerts to breaking industry and sector news leading the day's business headlines. News articles, written by our staff, contain additional analyst insight, providing value added insight for our readers. News updates and real-time alerts on newly-released market reports are also available from our Facebook page, Twitter feed @CandMResearch and RSS links. We also welcome inquiries from business journalists and the news media.