Sports Direct has reported flat pretax profits at £100.3m as sales grew in the first half.

Underlying pretax profit declined 1.7% to £99m in the 26 weeks to October 23.

In its UK retail arm, underlying EBITDA shot up 7.9% to £122.8m. The retailer “remains confident” it will reach its ful year target of £215m EBITDA, in light of the “opportunities in 2012 with the busy Summer of Sport including both the UEFA European Championships and the London Olympics”.

Group revenue increased 8.4%to £888.6m. Within that, UK retail sales increased 8.2% to £697m, boosted by increasing online sales and the creation of the premium lifestyle division following the acquisition of Cruise and USC earlier this year.

Group gross margin declined 110 basis points as the retailer continued to invest in margin.  

Online sales soared 85% and now represents 9.5% of total retail revenue.

Sports Direct chief executive Dave Forsey said: “This strong performance yet again demonstrates the success of our unique and resilient business model, and was delivered against both a tough FIFA World Cup comparison last year and an especially fragile consumer environment.

“The Board remains very confident of reaching our full year EBITDA target of £215m (before scheme costs) and we believe our Employee Bonus Share Schemes continues to underpin our performance.”

At period end, Sports Direct has 397 stores in the UK. It is aiming to open between 15 and 20 more stores this year.

International retail revenues increased 22.3% to £81.3m.

The retailer is aiming to grow its internationall business, and is targeting all 17 countries that have adopted the Euro within five years.