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Sports Direct owner cheers ‘great’ sales momentum ahead of Christmas

Sports Direct parent firm Frasers Group is heading into the key Christmas trading period with “great momentum” as bosses said its “elevation strategy” is paying off.

The firm, which is majority owned by Mike Ashley, saw both profits and revenues rise over the latest half-year.

Group revenues increased by 4.4% to £2.77 billion for the six months to October 29, compared with the same month last year.

Meanwhile, adjusted pre-tax profits increased by 12.6% year-on-year to £303.8 million as strong profitability from Sports Direct helped to offset lower profits from the sale of properties.

It came as the company continues to push forward with its “elevation strategy” under chief executive Michael Murray, who is also the son-in-law of Mr Ashley.

On Thursday, Mr Murray said: “We have delivered a strong performance in the first half of the year, with great momentum as we head into the Christmas trading period.

“The elevation strategy continues to drive strong trading performance across the business with good growth in Sports Direct supported by our brand partners.”

Michael Murray, chief executive of Frasers Group
Michael Murray is chief executive of Frasers Group (Frasers/PA)

Frasers has focused on improving brand partnerships through the strategy, as well as seeking to grow its premium business, with acquisitions and the opening of more stores under its Flannels brand.

Revenue in the group’s premium arm was 3.1% higher for the half as recently-bought brands helped to offset House of Frasers store closures.

Mr Murray also cautioned over weakness of the luxury market as consumers continue to feel the pinch from the higher cost-of-living.

He added: “Our long-term ambitions for our premium lifestyle business remain unchanged although it is likely that progress will remain subdued for the short to medium term in the face of a softer luxury market however, we continue to invest with confidence in our unique proposition.”

Chris Wootton, chief finance officer at Frasers, told the PA news agency diversity across the business puts it in a strong position to counter weakness in certain markets.

“We have held our profit guidance because we have continued well since the end of the half-year, irrespective of possible softness in luxury,” he said.

“The diversification means we are strongly positioned for all sorts of markets and means we can cover the range of customer demands.”

Shares in the company were 0.5% higher in early trading on Thursday.