JD Sports Fashion has continued its strong run with an improved performance over Christmas.

Like-for-like sales in the 48 weeks to January 4 were said to be "marginally" better than the rate of 5.8% the company reported in November.

It hailed a stronger Christmas for its sports stores and said that margins were largely protected in spite of widespread discounting on the high street.

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In November last year JD took a controlling stake in Scottish outdoors retailer Tiso Group as well as its subsidiaries Alpine Bikes, George Fisher and ski shop Blues. No details were given on how Tiso performed in the period.

JD's estate also includes outdoor stores under the Blacks and Millets brands and fashion outlets Bank and Scotts.

But Bury-based JD forecast its underlying profits for the 12 months to January 31 would be in line with market expectations.

Freddie George, from Cantor Fitzgerald, said the trading update was better than expected and predicted pre-tax profit to come in at around £72 million in the current financial year, rising to £84m in the next one.

He said: "The JD format is a clearly differentiated format, which has been strengthened over the last year and has significant potential to be developed overseas with the support of the international sports brands. We are also confident that the outdoor and fashion losses will either be markedly reduced over the next two years or management will be under pressure to dispose of these activities."

The shares closed the day flat at 1594p.