The core sports retail business of JD Sports Fashion performed particularly well during the last Christmas selling season. On a same-store basis, the growth in its sales in the U.K. and Ireland in the 48-week period ended Jan. 4 was marginally ahead of the previously reported increase of 5.8 percent achieved in the first 28 weeks of its financial year, a relatively strong growth rate that was confirmed for the 42-week period through Nov. 23. The company's board of directors says it is in line to deliver pre-tax profits before exceptional items that meet current market expectations. It will now focus on improving the performance of the other segments of the group's operations, including Blacks and its other outdoor retail activities.