Outdoorwear expected to offset O'Neill
Blacks Leisure is expected to weather the consumer downturn of the past 12 months, although estimates are wide ranging. The retailer reports full year figures tomorrow.

Analysts at Shore Capital expect like-for-like growth over the year to reach 8 per cent.

By contrast, Numis expects like-for-like sales growth to be just 4 per cent, against growth of 5 per cent the previous year.

Pre-tax profit expectations are more consensual, with Shore forecasting£23.1 million and Numis£21.1 million. Both brokers noted the poor performance of the retailer's O'Neill brand over the year. Numis said that, over the 20 weeks to January 15, gross margins suffered from 'higher levels of clearance activity and weak trading at the O'Neill surfwear brand'.

However, Shore said any troubles with the O'Neill brand have been offset by the outdoor division.

General retail analyst John Stevenson said: 'In contrast, we believe the outdoor division has the potential to continue to deliver further robust sales and profit growth, perhaps boosted by further strategic acquisitions. In addition, we look forward to further updates regarding the trial of Blacks edge-of-town stores. Given the perceived success of Snow + Rock in this area, we suspect that out-of-town expansion may become a more pervasive feature in the Blacks Leisure expansion plans.'