Retailer Sports Direct International Plc today (11 February) raised its full-year profits guidance for the second time in two months and said the Competition Commission has provisionally cleared its acquisition of 31 stores from rival JJB Sports.

The upgrade came after the sports retailer booked a 9.4% rise in store sales to GBP326m (US$509m) for the 13 weeks to 24 January, up from GBP298m in the same period last year.

Retail gross profit rose 11.5% to GBP136m from GBP122m), but revenue in the brands division fell 22.8% as the group focused on growing the division's higher-margin licensing business.

The company said total sales rose 4.2% to GBP370m, with gross profit up 7.7% to GBP154.

"The UK retail division continued to deliver strong results, particularly in online sales at Sportsdirect.com, where sales accounted for over 5% of the total UK revenue during the quarter," said chief executive Dave Forsey.

"Trading since the end of the quarter has remained encouraging," he added.

The retailer said it now expects full-year underlying earnings of at least GBP160m, up from the GBP155m forecast in December.

More good news for Sports Direct came from the Competition Commission (CC) which ruled the acquisition of 31 stores from JJB Sports was unlikely to lead to higher prices or a reduction in quality and choice for consumers.

"Sports Direct and JJB are undoubtedly each other's closest competitors nationally and this has not changed as a result of the transfer of a relatively small number of stores," said Diana Guy, chairman of the inquiry group and CC deputy chairman.

"What we have found is that the prices and range on offer in any individual Sports Direct store are not significantly affected by whether there is a nearby JJB store or not but, rather, depend on the degree of overall competition between the two at the national level."