JJB Sports, the sports retailer and health club operator facing a possible takeover bid, saw a 'significant' improvement in its stores' profit performance during the second half of the year with a boost from Nike and Adidas deals.
Non-executive chairman Roger Lane Smith said he was 'pleased with JJB's trading performance throughout the current accounting period, including Christmas and the New Year'.
He added that distribution deals with Nike and Adidas had enabled the company to concentrate on the sport side rather than leisure wear and continue the roll-out of its combined health club superstores.
Trading in the run-up to Christmas was 'satisfactory' and in line with management's expectations.
In the 22 weeks to 31 December, the Wigan-based group said, total revenue grew by 6% compared with the same period in the previous year and was up 6.3% on a like-for-like basis, which strips out the impact of new and closed space.
The combined gross margin from both the retail stores and the health clubs rose 1.7%.
Analysts said the figures were better than expected following cautious comments about second-half prospects last autumn when the company said profits had been hit by the competitive margins on replica football kit.
JJB shares have performed very strongly recently, helped by speculation about a possible bid from private-equity group Permira. The company has denied the talk but it has been in the takeover spotlight regularly.
Three years ago founder David Whelan also tried to buy back the company with a 220p-a-share offer, but the board turned him down.