Retailer JD Sports Fashion Plc expects full-year profit to come in at the low end of expectations after gains in its branded sportswear business continue to be offset by "significant" losses in its outdoor clothing stores.

In a Christmas trading statement released today (10 January), the retailer said sales at its JD Sports stores in the UK and Ireland rose 3.2% in the seven weeks to 5 January.

It added that cumulative like-for-like sales for these fascias over 49 weeks rose 2.4%, margins are close to last year's levels, and headline earnings are set to marginally exceed those of last year.

But its Bank and Scotts fashion stores saw like-for-like sales fall 7.9% in the seven-week period, with a decline of 3.9% for the year to date.

And the Blacks and Millets outdoor clothing chains, which were bought out of administration in January last year and operate 176 stores, put in a "disappointing" performance in the Christmas period.

Blaming this on the previous management team, the retailer is taking steps to improve trading with new products, store refurbishments and the appointment of former Cotswold Outdoor buying and merchandising director Ken Reeve as the new MD of Blacks.

"Next year will also see the benefit of cost reductions in various areas of the business and we anticipate that losses will reduce substantially as the new year progresses," it added.

Full-year profit before tax and exceptional items is likely to be at the lower end of market expectations, which is currently GBP60m, JD Sports said.

Matt Piner, research director at retail analyst Conlumino, points out that "JD was afforded a big opportunity this Christmas, with the demise of rival JJB presenting a chance to hoover up high street spending on sports-related products.

"In this sense," he says, "the growth is actually slightly disappointing and it's likely rival Sports Direct has instead positioned itself as the main beneficiary.

"The weaker parts of its business are an unwelcome distraction, but its core offer is also much less compelling than major rival Sports Direct. Performance has been flattered this Xmas, but going forward there is no longer a soft underbelly to feed on."