UK independent sports goods retailer, JJB Sports, has scored its own record with sales up by a bumper 13 per cent in the first six months of the year.

And it is predicting that figures look set to continue rising,as the booming sports and leisure industry grows by around five and seven per cent over the coming years.

A growing leisure market has meant the company has reversed the trend of gloom on the high street with its interim results for the period ended July 31 2000.

Turnover was up by 13 per cent to £304.8m and operating profit increased by 21 per cent to £32.9m. Pre-tax profit was also up by 23 per cent to £28.6m.

David Whelan, executive chairman of JJB said: "Although price promotions have had a small adverse effect on gross margins, the increase in turnover, together with a lower percentage cost of operating expenses, has resulted in record levels of operating profits for the half year.

"Although trading conditions on the high street are still challenging, I am confident that our superstore opening policy and providing a wide range of quality branded sports products at value for money prices will enable us to continue our growth and I look forward to the future with confidence."

During the first six months of the year, JJB opened 13 new stores and closed 27 stores, mainly smaller high street stores, continuing the company's policy of closing small, uneconomic stores and relocating to larger superstores.

JJB has also opened a second distribution centre in Northampton, improving deliveries to stores in London and the South East.

JJB has also created a leisure division, made up of three health clubs and three soccerdomes, including superstores. The third soccerdome, at Pride Park in Derby, was opened earlier this month.

A third health club in Oldham was also opened in October, comprising of a health club and swimming pool on the ground floor and a superstore above. Two more sites like this are planned for St Helens and Halifax for next year.

A further health club is due to open in January 2001 on the Pride Park site in Derby.

By Deborah Bowyer