Retail company John David Group is planning to shut more stores in its underperforming JD Sports chain after an increase in losses following the purchase of the First Sport chain.

The company says between 15 and 25 stores will be closed in the second half, in addition to 15 which have already been axed.

First-half losses totalled £6.4 million compared to £5.6m in 2003m.

The group acquired the 209 store First Sport chain in 2002, but has struggled to integrate the business which now only operates 31 sites.

The company said current trading has been steady since July, with like-for-like sales increasing by seven per cent since last year.

Operating profit totalled £2.2m in the second half, or £0.1m after net interest charges, compared to a loss of £1.5m and £3.8m a year earlier.

Turnover rose slightly to £212.1m from £209.7m last year.