Sports Direct Store UK
A Sports Direct store in Brighton, UK.Reuters

Sports Direct International, Britain's largest sporting goods retailer, reported a 14.6% increase in profit for the Christmas quarter ended 26 January, 2014, and said it was confident of achieving its full-year earnings target.

The group, with over 600 sports stores in Europe, including 400 in the UK, said on 19 February that its gross profit for the 13 weeks to 26 January, its fiscal third-quarter, rose to £280.7m ($469m, €340m), up from £244.8m a year ago.

Total sales rose 11.2% to £655.4m, including a 6.9% increase in its core sports retail division.

Sales at its fashion arm, which operates some 160 stores under the USC, Cruise and Flannels banners, shot up 52.5%.

The group's preliminary results would be announced on 17 July 2014.

Sports Direct's stock was trading 5.40% higher at 09:49GMT in London, valuing the firm at £4.52bn.

Dave Forsey, chief executive of Sports Direct International, said in a statement: "Despite tougher comparisons during the period, Sports Retail continues to perform well driven by our on-going focus on exceptional quality, unbeatable value and availability. Online also performed strongly with non-UK online gross profit contribution expected to be greater than the UK equivalent by the end of this financial year."

"While we retain the ability to invest in margin, inventory and Group marketing to deliver long-term sustainable growth, the Board is very confident of achieving at least our full year internal underlying EBITDA target of £310m, before the charge for the Employee Bonus Share Scheme."

Debenhams Investment

Sports Direct recently picked up 6.8 million shares in troubled clothing shop Debenhams.

Sports Direct confirmed that it also wanted to explore options "at an operational level" to work with the country's second largest department store.

Debenhams confirmed that it was "open minded" about working with the firm to improve its performance.

Sports Direct International's brand portfolio comprises 28 international sports, fashion and lifestyle brands including Dunlop, Slazenger, Everlast, Lonsdale and Karrimor.