Outdoor goods retail group Blacks Leisure has reduced first-half operating losses compared to last year but still lost £7.1 million during the period.
Sales for the 26 weeks to August 28th, decreased 22.6 per cent year-on-year to £90.6 million, primarily due to the forced closure of 88 stores in December 2009.
The 12 new or rebranded stores launched in H1 and are reported to be trading above target, and in other more promising news for the retailer online sales increased 38 per cent in the first half and 74 per cent in the second half to date.
Neil Gillis, CEO of Blacks Leisure, said: “Whilst trading conditions have continued to be very challenging, we are pleased with the performance of our new stores, which are trading above our expectations, and with the progress made with our programme of initiatives to underpin and protect our position as the leading outdoor retailer in the UK.”
Operational cost across the group fell by 22 per cent during the period and Blacks hopes to reduce costs further by agreeing the disposal of the ten remaining Boardwear stores excluding the Sancity Boardwear business which went into administration last year.
With increasing pressure on the Blacks and Millets stores owner from profitable competitor Go Outdoors, it is hoping that its newly opened stores, which now represent ten per cent of the group’s total sales, will continue to be successful.
David Bernstein, Chairman of Blacks Leisure, commented: “The successful implementation of the CVAs in late 2009 enabled the group to rationalise its business and provided the platform for the final phase of the turnaround plan.”
“Notwithstanding a difficult period of trading, the group reduced operating losses in the first half and commenced the final phase of its turnaround strategy through a programme of expansion and investment in its store estate.”
Gillis added: “The board believes that the combination of these initiatives, together with the continued success of the new store roll-out, should enable the business to achieve completion of the turnaround programme.”