JD Sports like-for-likes increased over the festive period, however, Blacks had a “disappointing” Christmas.

The group’s core UK and Ireland JD Sports fascias like-for-likes increased 3.2% in the seven weeks to January 5 and margin has strengthened and is now closer to last year’s levels.

However, the retailer said the performance of Blacks and Millets, which it acquired out of administration last January, was “disappointing” over the Christmas period.

JD warned that pre-tax profits are likely to be towards the lower end of current market expectations of £60m because of the “significant” level of losses in its outdoor business.

It blamed the poor Christmas on the proposition bought by Blacks and Millets’ previous management team and said all key players in that team had been replaced very recently.

JD insisted that sales in the outdoor division will improve and losses should be reduced substantially in the new year.

JD Sports Fashion executive chairman Peter Cowgill said: “While the performance of outdoor has been disappointing, we remain confident that this business will produce future returns.”

JD said it continues to rationalise Blacks and Millets’ portfolio and it now has 176 stores. It added that the seven outdoor stores it has refurbished have produced encouraging results and have been “well received” by its brands.

Meanwhile, at its fashion fascias, Bank and Scotts, like-for-likes declined 7.9% and Bank will now only break even in the year. JD said its management is now “very focussed” on improving the performance of its fashion business.

Cowgill said: “Christmas 2012 has seen another very robust performance from our core sports fascias. Both international development in the sports fascias and multichannel development throughout the group represent significant continuing growth opportunities.”

Cowgill insisted that trading across the group in recent weeks has been the strongest it had experienced for some time.