Sports and leisurewear retailer The John David Group has posted a positive like-for-like sales hike of 11.8% for the 44 week period to 1 December 2007, despite a recent slowdown, and indicated that January's profit result will beat expectations.

The sales result includes 12.4% increase in sports fascias and 2.0% increase in fashion fascias.

The company's board anticipates profit before tax and exceptional items for the current financial year to exceed current market expectations, adding that the Christmas trading period remains "critical".

The company also announced it has bought a 49.0% stake in Focus Brands Limited (Newco), a new company set up to acquire Focus Group Holdings Limited and its subsidiary companies (Focus Group).

JD has invested GBP49,000 by way of share capital and GBP2.45m by way of loan notes into Newco with these loan notes carrying a coupon of 1.5% above Barclays Bank base rate, it said.

It will purchase the footwear and apparel distributor from vendors Michael Gilbert, David Gilbert, David Tolman, Mark Schaffer and Trevor Freeman.

The vendors have also granted JD a call option over the 51.0% of Newco's issued share capital, exercisable by JD at any time after the fifth anniversary of the acquisition.

JD has also acquired a sub-licence to 2019 of the Sergio Tacchini brand in the UK from Focus Italy, a wholly owned subsidiary of Focus Group, with advanced royalties of GBP4.3m payable in cash.

JD added, however, that immediately prior to this transaction taking place, Focus Group's UK license with Converse has been transferred outside of the Focus Group.

Peter Cowgill, executive chairman of JD, said: "We are pleased to announce this investment in the Focus Group, which further expands our unique product and brand offering.

"By drawing on the management team's expertise and proven success in the development of product and brands, we are confident that this investment will bring financial and strategic benefits in the future."