RETAILER Sports Direct raised its guidance on full-year profits for the second time in two months today.
The upgrade, which followed a 9.4% rise in store sales for the 13 weeks to January 24, came at the same time as the Competition Commission provisionally cleared the firm’s acquisition of 31 stores from JJB Sports.
Shares jumped 7% following the trading and regulatory news.
The watchdog investigated the JJB purchases, which were made over a two-year period, after the Office of Fair Trading raised concerns about five areas where competition had been reduced.
The Commission said it was unlikely that there would be higher prices or a reduction in quality and choice for consumers.
Commission deputy chairman Diana Guy said: "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."
In today’s update, Sports Direct said it now expected underlying earnings for the year to April of "at least" £160 million.
In December, it forecast a figure of £155 million - the level at which the share bonus scheme it introduced in July to motivate staff will kick in.
The scheme - which applies to all permanent UK staff with more than one year’s service - will pay out 25% of base pay in shares which vest two years later.
Chief executive Dave Forsey said the UK retail arm continued to deliver strong results, helped by online sales at sportsdirect.com.
"The board is pleased with the group’s trading performance during the quarter," he added.
The group has 371 stores in the UK and 63 overseas outlets, with more than 16,600 staff in total. It is controlled by Newcastle United owner Mike Ashley.