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Sales and profits flat at Blacks as deputy CEO exits

Sales at Blacks Leisure fell by 0.4% to £294.4 million, while pre-tax profits rose marginally from £0.1m to £0.3m for the year to March 1.

Blacks Leisure, which said in a statement that it had experienced a "second difficult year", announced that finance director and deputy chief executive Keith Fleming had resigned.

Fleming will be replaced by Marc Lombardo in the role of group finance director. Lombardo will join from brewery firm Greene King where he is group financial planning director.

Blacks Leisure's outdoor division, which includes the Blacks and Millets chains, saw its operating profit excluding exceptional items grow to £7.4m from £2.5m the previous year. But its boardsports business, which includes Freespirit and Sandcity, made a loss of £3.2m.

Blacks Leisure said the group had made a "solid start" to the financial year with improved operating profit, but total sales in the 12 weeks to May 24 fell 5.2% and like-for-like sales were also down 4.1%.

Chairman David Bernstein said: "The management team is focused on restoring competitive advantage in order to build on the improved operational disciplines of the current year. However, further radical change is required to deliver a return to the previous levels of performance. I am pleased with the momentum and actions of the past six months and see these as a first step to delivering the required changes within the group."

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