However, the retailer warned that its profits will fall below expectations, because it had to slash prices to clear a backlog of stock.
In the six weeks to January 6, JJB's like-for-like revenue rose 2.5 per cent. The decrease in combined gross margin resulted from a decision to clear a build-up of older product lines in stores.
The sports retailer said it expects pre-tax profit and exceptional operating items for the second half to be below the£27.4 million achieved in the second half of last year.
Total revenue for the 23 weeks to January 6 was up 2.2 per cent. For JJB’s stores only (excluding health clubs), total revenue rose 1.2 per cent, with like-for-likes up 1.9 per cent.
JJB said that clearing stock will stand the retailer in better stead for the start of this year and that it will implement a store refurbishment programme across selected stores, following the trial of its new format at the Trafford Centre, in Manchester.
The retailer said it plans to strengthen the business further by introducing a bonus scheme to motivate retail staff and by opening a training academy. However, it remained cautious about the year ahead, because of the escalating pressure on consumers’ finances.
JJB Sports non-executive chairman Roger Lane-Smith said: “I am confident that, under the direction of chief executive Chris Ronnie, the whole executive team is taking all the right actions to reinvigorate this business.”