British retailer JD Sports Fashion expects to post full-year results towards the upper end of market expectations after strong demand at its core sports division helped it to achieve record first-half trading. 

Shares in the firm, which also trades in Ireland, the Netherlands, Spain, France and Germany, rose by almost 5% in early trade after the positive update. 

JD Sports said its profit before tax and exceptional items doubled to £20m in the 26 weeks to August 2, which it described as a record performance, on revenue up 27% to £721.5m. 

It will pay an interim dividend of 1.15 pence, up 3.4%. 

The firm said comparisons with the previous year are tougher in the second half than they had been in the first half and noted the full-year outcome will, as ever, be significantly dependent on Christmas trading. 

Prior to today's update analysts were on average forecasting an underlying pretax profit for 2014-15 of about £83m, according to Reuters data, up from £77m in 2013-14. 

First-half sales at stores open over a year in the group's core European sports division, which sells trainers and tracksuits, rose 13%. 

Like-for-like sales at its Blacks and Millets outdoor retail chains, bought from administrators for £20m over two years ago, increased 12%. 

The division broke even for the first time in the second half of 2013-14 after improvements to stores, operations and management. 

But the group said its loss-making Banks and Scotts fashion division, where management has been overhauled, continued to disappoint, though trading did improve in the second quarter. 

In May the firm announced that its chief executive BarryBown had stepped down from the board after 30 years with the company and would not be replaced. 

The group's growth strategy has long been led by Executive Chairman Peter Cowgill, who also takes a key role in the day-to-day running of the company.