JD Sports Fashion, whose holdings including Go Outdoors, Black, Millets and other outdoor retail chains in the U.K., is making significant progress in its international development. The British retailer is increasingly optimistic about the international potential of its JD banner, which is already operating in 14 countries outside of the U.K. and Ireland. Excluding the acquisitions of The Finish Line in the U.S. and Sport Zone in Spain and Portugal, the group's sales grew by 15 percent for the 48-week period through Jan. 5, 2019. On a comparable store basis, sales gained more than 5 percent, including a positive same-store performance across Black Friday and the Christmas period. The gross margin remained flat, which the management attributed to its policy not to enter into short-term reactive discounting unnecessarily. It noted that, in view of the well-publicized challenges within the wider British retail market, it is pleased with these domestic trading results, which it believes further demonstrate the “robust foundations” of its multi-brand, multi-channel proposition across its core market, as well as its capacity for further growth on an expanding geographic scale. JD also announced that the first phase of works to fit out a 352,000-square-foot extension at its primary Kingsway warehouse has now been completed, enabling partial use of the additional space. Additional automation equipment is being installed now and should be ready by late spring. JD said that the transition to the enlarged site has caused some labor cost inefficiencies in operations, but it still expects that the group's pre-tax profit for the year ended on Feb. 2, 2019 will be at the upper end of analysts' expectations, which currently range from £325 million (€367.0m-$417.4m) to £352 million (€397.4m-$452.1m). The preliminary results for the full-year will be published on April 16, 2019. More in Sporting Goods Intelligence Europe.