HMV Group says it expects its pre-tax profits to be towards the upper end of market expectations after reporting a Christmas sales surge of 9.4% compared to the previous year, while the company's powerhouse music/entertainment chain HMV U.K. & Ireland managed a 14.1% like-for-like increase.

HMV's international sales rose 2.3%, although like-for-like sales fell by 0.6%.

The results for the five weeks ending Jan. 5 follow the introduction in 2007 of a three-year turnaround plan to protect and improve the core business, cut costs and develop new revenue channels.

The company says HMV U.K. & Ireland achieved strong sales and market share across all products; it also points to sales growth at its online division and says results from its "Next Generation" store trials have provided the basis for more launches of the outlets where physical and digital music are available alongside each other.

HMV says pre-tax profits are expected to hit the top end of the current market estimate of between £43 million ($85 million) and £53 million ($104 million).

"Less than a year into our transformation programme, the initiatives we are undertaking to revitalise our business have helped to deliver a highly successful Christmas," said chief executive Simon Fox in a statement. "Having stabilised the business, we will continue to focus on revitalising our store propositions as well as growing new channels to market and carefully managing margins and costs. The Group is, therefore, well positioned for the next phase of its turnaround."

As previously reported, rival U.K. entertainment chain Zavvi claimed a 10.8% increase in sales over Christmas.