Like-for-likes also strong
Computer entertainment group Game expects full-year profits to be higher than market consensus following a strong performance over the Christmas period.

Profit before tax for the year to January 31 is now forecast to be in the region of£28 million to£30 million.

Gross margin per cent will exceed expectations, despite lower-margin hardware sales accounting for a higher proportion of the sales mix. The retailer said the effect on margins had been more than offset by well-timed promotions and refreshed presentation in stores.

Over the festive trading period - the six weeks to January 6 - group like-for-like sales increased 15.6 per cent, while total sales soared 20.9 per cent. Sales in continental Europe rose 35.8 per cent in total and 11.8 per cent on a like-for-like basis. Comparable store sales in the UK and Ireland rose 16.6 per cent over the same period.

For the 49 weeks to January 6, total group sales jumped 23.3 per cent and like-for-likes rose 15.4 per cent.

Chairman Peter Lewis said: 'Our Christmas sales performance was excellent, especially given the strong comparatives for the previous year when the Microsoft Xbox 360 launched. This year there was strong demand for all formats, in particular for the Nintendo DS Lite and the most recent market entrant, the Nintendo Wii.'

The European launch of the PlayStation 3 console, delayed until March this year, is expected to provide a boost to the games industry in 2007.