Sporting goods retailer JD Sports Fashion has posted a 54% hike in first-half profit before tax and exceptional items to GBP12.4m (US$23m).

The company's total group revenue increased by 19% during the period and by 6.0% on a like-for-like basis. Sales rose 5.9% for its sports fascias and 6.7% for its fashion fascias.

Gross margin rose from 48.0% to 48.2%, reflecting continued efforts to improve bought-in margin as well as increasing the share of own brands sold in its sports shops.

Group store numbers fell from 432 to 430, although the total retail square footage increased during the period.

Peter Cowgill, executive chairman of JD Sports, said: "Trading has been very positive with improved like-for-like sales and gross margin generating a significant increase in profit before tax and exceptional items.

"The like-for-like sales performance in the balance of the year will be measured against very strong comparatives from last year and with the backdrop of challenging conditions for the consumer.

"Nevertheless, the board believes that the group is strongly positioned to deliver on market expectations."

JD said that trading in the six weeks since the end of the first half has "continued to be encouraging."

Like-for-like sales for the full 32-week period to 13 September were up by 5.4% in the sports fascias and by 8.2% in the fashion fascias.