Entertainment retailer Game has released a stellar first-half trading statement, with sales ahead of expectations.

In the 22 weeks to June 28, total group sales at Game rocketed 54 per cent. Like-for-likes, which include Gamestation sales from May 1, shot up 24.8 per cent.

In the UK and Ireland, sales soared 58.2 per cent and like-for-likes rose 28.1 per cent. Total international sales climbed 43.9 per cent and 16.9 per cent on a like-for-like basis.

Game chairman Peter Lewis said: “The PC and video games market has continued to grow strongly in this period and I am pleased to report that Game is performing slightly ahead of our expectations for the first half of the year.

Gamestation, which was acquired in May last year, “continues to perform well”, said Lewis. The retailer expects to generate cost and revenue synergies of about£7 million this year. The non-recurring integration charge for this year will be between£4 million and£5 million. Game said it would spend£4 million to achieve its integration plans.

Game, which has a portfolio of 1,229 stores, plans to open 60 more in time for the Christmas trading period. Most of the openings will be overseas. The retailer’s capital expenditure for the year will be about£42 million.

The entertainment retailer has appointed Dennis Woodside, managing director of Google, UK, Ireland and Benelux, to the board as non-executive director.

Game said that first-half performance has been very good to date, driven by a strong release schedule including Wii Fit, Mario Kart and Metal Gear Solid 4.

It expects gross margins will improve by 50 to 100 basis points in the year to January 31, 2009, and forecasts profit before tax and non-recurring costs for the six months to July 31 to be not less than£33 million.

Lewis said: “We look forward to the second half of the year and, although the quality of the first-half release schedule is unprecedented, we remain confident about the key Christmas trading season.”