JD Sports has defied the high street gloom by posting a searing set of results, as bosses attempted to contrast their success with the tumultuous time faced by arch-rival Sports Direct.

Sales in the UK jumped 10% on a like-for-like basis, with bosses saying customers have been reacting positively to the retailer's push towards more premium products and a strong online business.

Peter Cowgill did have a warning for landlords, hinting that he would expect rent reviews following several high street rivals using the CVA insolvency process which has allowed them to cut rents to avoid going bust.

He said: "We are very aware of the financial benefit that other retailers appear to get when they downsize their estates and, whilst we have no plans to fundamentally alter the size of the JD store network in the UK at this time, we continue to seek fairness and flexibility in the terms of our leases."

The executive chairman's calls follow similar warnings from Next boss Simon Wolfson, who has inserted CVA clauses into some leases - meaning if neighbouring retailers have cut rents due to a CVA, Next should too.

But overall, it was a positive six months for JD Sports, with pre-tax profits hitting £129.9 million on revenues of £2.72 billion in the half year to August 3.

Builder Bovis Homes has rekindled talks over a merger with rival Galliford Try's housing arm in a deal valuing the division at £1.08 billion.

Bovis said the talks to combine Bovis Homes and Galliford's Linden Homes and Partnerships & Regeneration unit are still at an early stage, and stressed there remains "significant work to be completed" before a deal can be agreed.

They stressed the deal was not a full merger of the two companies, with Galliford remaining a separately listed construction-focused firm.

It marks the second attempt of a deal between the pair this year after Galliford Try rejected a £950 million approach in May, and comes two years after full merger talks between the two housebuilders collapsed.

Galliford attempted to acquire Bovis but talks broke down after the pair failed to agree on a valuation.

Alibaba Group founder Jack Ma, who helped launch China's online retailing boom, has stepped down as chairman of the world's biggest e-commerce company.

The move comes at a time when its fast-changing industry faces uncertainty amid a US-Chinese tariff war.

Mr Ma, one of China's wealthiest and best-known entrepreneurs, gave up his post on his 55th birthday as part of a succession announced a year ago.

He will stay on as a member of the Alibaba Partnership, a 36-member group with the right to nominate a majority of the company's board of directors.

Mr Ma, a former English teacher, founded Alibaba in 1999 to connect Chinese exporters to American retailers.

The company has shifted focus to serving China's growing consumer market and expanded into online banking, entertainment and cloud computing.