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Blacks Leisure reduces full-year losses

Blacks Leisure, the outdoor sports specialist, said its full-year losses before tax and exceptional items fell from £14.4m to £6.6m but still suffered a “disappointing” year.

Blacks said that while the loss reflected a lacklustre period of trading, particularly in the first half of the year, it demonstrated a “significant underlying improvement in results” following its restructure last year, which included a CVA.

Sales fell 16% to £202m from £240.5m in the year to February 26. Like-for-like sales declined by 6.1%. Blacks said trading conditions continued to be challenging in the year. Outdoor like-for-likes were up 10.2% over Christmas with the snowy weather, but overall outdoor was down 4.9%. Boardwear, which will close in the coming months, fell by 28.5% like-for-like.

The number of stores open at the end of the financial year was 308, down from 313, as 88 stores closed as part of Blacks’ CVA.

Despite the reduction in stores, the group opened 13 new or rebranded stores in the year. These stores together account for around 10% of total group sales.

In its new financial year, Blacks said trading conditions had remained tough and that sales since the year end had been below expectations.

The retailer also confirmed that chief executive Neil Gillis will hand over the rein to Julia Reynolds in summer. She joins from Figleaves.com and prior to that was category director at Tesco.

Blacks has also secured a new revolving credit facility with its banks to run until July 2012. The facility will be extended to November 2012 when the new chief executive takes up the role.

David Bernstein, chairman, said:  “This has been another difficult year for both the group and the UK retail sector generally, with consumer confidence still continuing to be fragile.  Despite this, action taken by the group has resulted in the delivery of a much reduced loss for the year.”

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