JD Sports Fashion said it expects profit for the year to February to be “within the top quartile” of forecasts but that the ultimate result will depend on trading in overseas markets during January.

“Against a backdrop of widely reported retail challenges in the group’s core UK market, it is encouraging to report positive like-for-like trends in the global sports fashion fascias, particularly overseas,” it said in a statement, without providing a figure for UK sales growth.

The group on Friday said that the timing of post-Christmas sales was different in some of its markets, which include France, Spain, Sweden, Australia and South Korea.

In the group’s most recent financial year, revenue from its overseas operations surpassed that of the UK business for the first time, following the 2018 acquisition of Finish Line in the US.

Five years ago, overseas revenue was less than a fifth of the total. 

Analysts’ forecasts currently range from £403m to £433m, before the impact of new accounting standards on leases. 

JD’s growth has been powered by the growing trend for athleisure wear among younger consumers and its strong relationships with suppliers such as Nike and Adidas. 

The group has been a nimble buyer of struggling businesses, including outdoorwear specialists Blacks Leisure and rival shoe retailer Footasylum. Its acquisition of that chain is currently the subject of a Competition and Markets Authority investigation

The company’s shares, which rose 0.7 per cent in early trading on Friday, were promoted to the FTSE 100 last year after rising more than 3,000 per cent in the past decade. The stock was the best performer among large retailers in 2019. The group’s market capitalisation is just over £8bn.

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