Total sales inch up but like-for-likes down
Blacks Leisure made a pre-tax pre-exceptionals loss of£13.8 million, compared to a profit of£21.4 million last year, in the year to March 3.

The retailer said it had been hit by a tough retail environment and exceptionally mild weather. Sales rose just 0.3 per cent to£298.3 million for the year and like-for-likes dropped 2.7 per cent.

Chairman David Bernstein said: 'We are determined to position the business to respond better to the competitive environment and our operational review, under way since January, is producing results and necessary consequential change.'

The outdoors retailer said its management team is focused on restoring competitive advantage in order to recover from the declines of this year. It also said that progress on developing its own-brand clothing labels was going well.

The group closed about 45 loss-making stores in January, predominately in its Millets fascia, which resulted in an exceptional provision of£13.9 million for the year.

Bernstein added: 'The stock clearance programme in March and the unseasonably warm spring weather have affected the start of the new financial year. The first half outlook depends on the key second quarter and the success of our new camping and summer clothing lines, which have started well.'

Blacks Leisure said total sales rose 2.7 per cent and like-for-likes were up 0.8 per cent in the 8 weeks to April 28.

Seymour Pierce analyst Richard Ratner said: 'Good news is on current trading - given the hot weather we feared that it might have been in negative territory. The company is moving in the right direction. With Mike Ashley half way through his preclusion period, we see the share price steadying up.'