• H1 pre-tax profit jumps 25.1%
  • Group revenue up 0.1% to GBP1.43bn 
  • Analyst describes performance as "stable"

UK retailer Sports Direct has delivered a "stable" first-half performance, with a double-digit profit increase as well as sales and margin improvements. 

The group's pre-tax profit reached GBP187.3m (US$284.2m) for the 26 weeks to 25 October, compared to GBP149.7m in the same period of the prior year. On an underlying basis, pre-tax profit rose 3.6% to GBP166.4m from GBP160.6m last year. 

Group revenue edged up 0.1% to GBP1.43bn from GBP1.43bn a year ago, with Sports Retail climbing 0.2%, and Brands increasing 10.2% year-on-year. Premium Lifestyle declined 12.2%, largely due to the closure of a number of USC stores during the period. 

Group gross margin improved 90 basis points to 44.9%. 

"The group has delivered another excellent set of results particularly given the strong comparable sales generated in the build up to the FIFA 2014 World Cup and after a generally mixed summer for the retail sector," said CEO Dave Forsey. 

He added that trading since the end of the first half has been "in line with management's expectations", and Sports Direct remains confident of achieve the 2015 Share Scheme's revised underlying EBITDA target of GBP420m. 

Conlumino analyst Rebecca Marks described the performance as "stable", adding: "Despite recent annual comparative challenges, next year may produce a different story as the group looks forward to a boom in sales off the back of the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro and the 2016 European Football Championships."