Video games retailer Game Group said on Tuesday it was confident its full year result would be better than last year despite a delay in the launch of Sony Corp.'s Playstation 3.
The 720 store chain said like for like sales had grown 15.8 percent in the eight weeks to September 23, following a 13.4 percent climb during the six months to July 31.
The improvement came after pretax losses were halved to 7.1 million pounds from 14.7 million pounds in the traditionally slower first half, providing a platform ahead of the key Christmas period.
Game Group shares climbed 2 percent to 91 pence on Tuesday after the company's statement, but were trading flat at 90 pence at 08:42 GMT (9:42 a.m. British time). Earlier this month, Game Group shares fell 5 percent on the announcement that Sony would delay the European launch of its long awaited PS3 console until after Christmas.
Chief Executive Martin Long played down the impact of the delay, highlighting that trading was already up significantly and he was happy with the current spread of new technologies such as the Xbox 360 and forthcoming Nintendo Wii.
Finance Director David Thomas added on the conference call: When Sony announced the delay, analysts looked to revise forecasts of market expectations. (But) we didn't ever expect to sell a significant number of PS3s units this year.
Game Group said it would continue its store expansion plan, and hopes to increase the number of stores and franchises worldwide from 721 to over 780 by Christmas.
It added that it would continue looking at new markets after a recent acquisition in Australia, which took it outside Europe for the first time.
Analysts at Seymour Pierce, who had cut profit forecasts to 18.5 million pounds from 21 million after the Sony announcement, raised them on Tuesday to 22.5 million pounds. However, it kept a sell rating on the company.
Game Group proposed a 10.4 percent increase in the interim dividend to 1.27 pence.