JJB Sports, the UK sports retailer and health clubs group, on Thursday reported a sharp drop in first half profits amid low demand for sportswear and reiterated that second-half trading will likely match last year's levels.

For the 26 weeks to 29 July, the company reported a 38.3% decline in pretax profit to GBP11.2m (US$22.8m).

Total revenues fell 4.3% to GBP365m and were down 4.4% on a like-for-like basis. However, the company said they could not be compared to last year when World
Cup-driven sales bolstered demand for its products.

JJB said second-half trading will be similar to lastyear, hinting that underlying pretax profit will total GBP35m, GBP10m below analysts' expectations.

JJB's disappointing figures came as rival Umbro said England football T-shirts are selling poorly, saying profits 2007 profits could be lower than forecast.

As part of turnaround plans, JJB plans to expand its own-brand portfolio. It plans to open five twin health club/superstores in the second half and 14 such stores next year.