UK retailer Sports Direct has said it is confident of reaching its full year targets after posting better than expected third quarter sales.

The company said that sales for the 13 week period ended 27 January were up 21.1% to GBP589.5m, a sharp increase on the 10% growth forecast by Bank of America Merrill Lynch analysts. Gross profit increased 22.7% to GBP244.8m, against a 15% estimate.

Bank of America Merrill Lynch analyst Richard Chaimberlain said the better than expected performance was driven by the group's retail group, including online, which has been growing at well over 50% year-on-year.

The group's sports retail division recorded a 21.2% rise in sales to GBP495.8m, with gross profit increasing 23.5% to GBP203.7m.

Premium lifestyle sales grew 42.4% to GBP46.7m, with gross profit increasing 35.1% to GBP20.4m, while revenue in the brands division was up 4.4% to GBP47m, with gross margin increasing 6.7% to GBP20.7m.

"As we highlighted back in December at our interim results, the group's strong performance continued during Q3, primarily driven by our sports retail division, including online following the successful integration of our new operating platform," said chief executive Dave Forsey.
"We are certain of reaching our 2013 full year targeted underlying EBITDA of GBP270m (before the charge for the bonus share schemes)."