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 opeations.