JD Sports Fashion has hailed a "robust performance" over Christmas, driven by its core sports fascias, and expects further growth elsewhere in the group this year.

The UK retailer today (10 January) said like-for-like sales at its core stores for the 48 weeks to 4 January are "marginally" ahead of the 5.8% increase over the first half, with underlying product gross margins largely maintained.

The group added that it remains on course to deliver headline profit before tax and exceptional items in line with current market expectations.

JD Sports executive chairman Peter Cowgill said: "Christmas 2013 has seen yet another very robust performance from our core sports fascias [which include JD, Size?, Chausport, Champion, and Sprinter].

"Throughout recent years of considerable change and expansion for the group, the core sports fascias' proposition has continued to be developed and enhanced.

"I am delighted that the most recent six weeks' trading has continued to give confidence for the future. I also expect considerable further progress elsewhere in the group in 2014."

Commenting on the results, Conlumino analyst David Alexander said: "If the group can implement its well-heeled strategy for success across its increasingly broad collection of brands, then the future looks bright for JD.

But, he warned, managing a complex and growing business with 13 different fascias against substantial pressure from the likes of Sports Direct could prove challenging.

"On the other hand, the challenge of managing a complex and growing business with 13 different fascias against substantial pressure from market behemoth, Sports Direct, means that the future is also likely to remain fraught with challenges."