Sports Direct is confident of hitting its full year target after posting a profit rise of nearly 23% during the Christmas period.

The sports chain said its gross profit grew 22.7% to £244.8million for the 13 weeks to January 27 2013.

Its sales for the period increased by 21% to £589.5million.

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The profits rise also increased share prices for the company, which went up 19.45p to 435.45p.

The group is aiming for underlying earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation of £270m for 2013.

Last December Sports Direct said it wanted to grant its founder, billionaire Mike Ashley, 10 million shares if its performance targets were met. The revised payout proposal had been expected to go before shareholders in early 2013.

Ashley is a major stakeholder at Rangers. He is currently in discussion with the club over a multi-million pound deal to rename Ibrox.