SPORTSWEAR retailer JJB Sports today shrugged off England’s early exit in the World Cup as it said sales had soared in recent weeks.

The group reported like-for-like sales growth of 22.3% in the six weeks to July 4 - in line with its forecasts despite the England team being knocked out last month following a 4-1 defeat by Germany.

JJB, which is in the middle of a turnaround plan after a torrid past few years, added that profit margins continued to improve with a rise to 43.9% in the period.

The Wigan-based chain is a major seller of replica kits and has traditionally relied heavily on football tournaments to drive sales.

But it has been widening its focus to all major sporting events to reduce dependence on tournament years.

Today’s figures were also achieved in spite of JJB’s summer clearance sale starting on July 1, 10 days later than the previous year.

However, the group is benefiting from weak comparatives after it was hit by a stock crisis last year when suppliers became reluctant to deal with the firm as it struggled with financial woes.