Blacks Leisure, the outdoor equipment and boardwear retailer, has suffered a 5.4 per cent fall in group like-for-likes in the financial year so far.

However, there are signs that the decline, over the 19 weeks to July 12, is being reversed. In July to date, as the peak camping season got under way, group comparable store sales rose 6.1 per cent.

Over the 19-week period, like-for-likes at the outdoor division slipped 2.2 per cent against a strong comparative period last year, when they surged 27.8 per cent. Boardwear store like-for-likes plummeted 15.5 per cent.

Blacks reported that the business was performing in line with plans and cost savings were ahead of expectations. So far, there have been year-on-year cost reductions of£2.4 million versus a full-year target of£3 million.

Blacks said the impact of cost savings, along with improved margins, means that pre-tax profits so far are ahead of last year. Net debt was down by£6.8 million year-on-year over the period, the result of better working capital management and stock control.

Two test stores in Kensington and Holborn have been trading ahead of expectations and another five shops will be converted and tested.