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Blacks losses widen

Blacks Leisure, the outdoor specialist, posted a sharp decline in first-half profits but said it is making progress with its restructuring, details of which which be revealed in coming weeks.

Blacks reported a pre-tax loss of £18.1m for the 26 weeks to August 29, compared to a loss of £6.7m in the comparable period last year. Exceptional charges of £6.1m, including restructuring costs, had an impact. Sales fell to £124.9m from £133m.

Like-for-likes slipped 1.1%, but – excluding closing stores – advanced 3.8% in the first two months of the new financial year.

Last month Blacks put its Sandcity boardwear business into administration and is shutting 89 loss-making shops.

Chief executive Neil Gillis said more action will be needed and that the restructuring plan would be unveiled soon. He said: “In the current economic climate it is clear that more radical measures are needed to free the core outdoor business from the burden of the loss-making boardwear business and a tail of stores that have not traded profitably for many years.

“We will work with our advisors, KPMG, to implement the restructuring plan which will enable us to eliminate these losses. We expect to be in a position to announce further details of the restructuring shortly.”

Blacks is thought to be considering measures such as a Company Voluntary Arrangement as part of its restructuring.

The retailer said its bank, Lloyds, which agreed to a standstill agreement in September subject to the retailer coming up with satisfactory proposals by October 30, was satisfied with the turnaround plans outlined so far.

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