January 16, 2018 / 7:57 AM / 3 months ago

UPDATE 2-Sportswear sales help JD Sports sprint ahead of UK rivals

* Sees full-year profit 300 mln stg vs forecast 270-295 mln

* Comparable store sales growth has continued around 3 pct

* Shares jump as much as 9 percent to 7-month high (Recasts, adds shares, details)

By Rahul B

Jan 16 (Reuters) - Demand for sportswear will help JD Sports Fashion Group beat full-year profit forecasts, the British retailer said on Tuesday, sending its shares as much as 9 percent higher.

Bucking generally subdued trading by British store groups, JD said it expected pretax profit for the year ending Feb. 3 to come in at around 300 million pounds ($414 million), ahead of analysts’ forecasts of 270-295 million pounds.

At 1135 GMT, its shares were up 5.4 percent at 385.6 pence, after earlier touching a 7-month high of 400 pence.

Many of Britain’s biggest retailers, including Marks & Spencer and Tesco, have reported tough trading as consumer spending is squeezed between rising inflation and subdued wages growth.

JD, which also runs camping and outdoor clothing chains such as Blacks, Millets and Go Outdoors, said comparable store sales growth had continued at around 3 percent in the second half of its financial year, helped by strong growth in its online business and overseas expansion.

“JD Sports was probably insulated to some extent by its purchase of Go Outdoors, as the December cold snap prompted shoppers to stock up on winter warmers,” said Hargreaves Lansdown analyst Laith Khalaf, referring to the chain that the company bought in 2016 for 112 million pounds.

JD owns brands such as Footpatrol and Cloggs, and also sells exclusive items from Nike and Adidas under the “Only At JD” tag.

It has overtaken rival Sports Direct to become Britain’s biggest sportswear retailer by market value, tapping into the more expensive and exclusive fashion end of the market.

It operates in Britain, Ireland, France and Spain from more than 1,300 stores, and expanded into the South Korean market in September with a joint venture deal.

($1 = 0.7251 pounds)

Reporting by Rahul B in Bengaluru; Editing by Amrutha Gayathri and Mark Potter

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