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Shares in Sports Direct slump 5%

SPORTS Direct International shares slumped by more than 5% in spite of a record half-year profit.

The retailer, which has dozens of stores in Scotland and a joint venture with Rangers, benefited from the interest in the London Olympics and Paralympics.

Revenue in the six months to October 28 was up 22.5% from £888.6 million to almost £1.1 billion while underlying pre-tax profits came in 26% ahead at £125.1m, up from £99m.

Chief executive Dave Forsey said: "There is no doubt Team GB's outstanding performance has helped increase the awareness and popularity of sport across the UK."

The UK sports retail arm reported an 18.1% increase in sales to £796.9m and international sales grew 11.4% to £90.6m.

The premium lifestyle division, which includes Cruise and USC, saw a 150% rise to £56.1m while the branded goods section was up 15.7% to £106.9m.

The company is majority-owned by Newcastle United backer Mike Ashley, who also has a stake in Rangers, while Sir Tom Hunter has more than 390,000 shares.

Sports Direct bought 20 stores from rival JJB after it collapsed into administration during the trading period, and also acquired the Slazenger Golf brand.

Yesterday, Sports Direct confirmed its sales momentum had continued into the Christmas quarter and its online operation was performing well.

It is on track to meet its earnings target for the full year of £270m, which is a benchmark on a staff bonus scheme that recently delivered a £15,000 shares windfall to 1750 workers.

A scheme which may trigger a multimillion- pound bonus for Mr Ashley is being explored after shareholders rejected a previous version in the summer.

The company said it was increasing its earnings target for the next two financial years to reach £360m in 2015.

The shares fell 23.1p to 386.2p.

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