Sports Direct has revealed that trading has remained challenging since it updated the City on March 13 this year.

Sports Direct, led by billionaire founder Mike Ashley, said that, despite the challenging environment across the group as a whole, the board remains confident of achieving market consensus expectations for underlying EBITDA of approximately£148 million.

Sports Direct reported total group sales for the 13 weeks to the end of January were£317 million and group profit was£142 million.

At the same time, Sports Direct announced a strategic alliance with ITAT Group, which operates a network of multi-brand apparel retail chains in the UK, to supply the group.

Pali International retail analyst Nick Bubb said: “It is surprising that the poor March and April didn’t do more damage to the bottom line [at Sports Direct], but the company says that they expected life to be tough and so managed their costs and margins accordingly.”

He added that EBITDA of£148 million is still more than 20 per cent down on last year and that would leave profit before tax more than 50 per cent down. “Unless China takes off like a rocket, the shares still look overvalued relative to the rest of the sector,” he said.