MIKE Ashley's Sports Direct International has seen its shares climb more than 7% after posting a strong increase in sales.

The retailer said group sales were up 11.2% from £589.5 million to £655.4m in the 13 weeks to January 26 while gross profit grew 14.6% from £244.8m to £280.7m. The core sports division saw its sales grow 6.9% to £529.9m, from £495.8m with gross profit 12.9% greater at £230m.

The upmarket premium lifestyle arm, which includes Cruise and USC, saw a 52.5% hike in sales to £71.2m with gross profits surging more than 39% to £28.4m although the prior year comparable figure did not include a contribution from Republic, which was acquired in February 2013.

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Revenue from the brand owning operation in the period to January 26 was 15.5% higher at £54.3m with gross profits there growing 7.7% from £20.7m to £22.3m.

Dave Forsey, chief executive, said the company remains on track to hit its target of £310m in underlying earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation.

The company did not give any further details on a potential collaboration with Debenhams.

Sports Direct shares closed up 51p at 767p.