Blacks Leisure is confident that a forecast warm summer and completion of a £20m fundraising will put the business on a strong footing after a turbulent year.
Chief executive Neil Gillis said that he felt “very optimistic” after like-for-like sales rose 5.4% in the year to February 27. Blacks made a loss before tax of £46.9m on sales of £249m in the year, he reported.
The outdoor specialist is pushing ahead with its planned fundraising, which this time will be passed by a majority vote. That means that 29%-stakeholder Sports Direct will be unable to block the scheme, as it did before making an unsuccessful bid for Blacks earlier this year.
Blacks made a loss of £7.9m from the stores remaining after last September’s CVA. Broker Numis said this was “a touch ahead” of the £8.5m it had expected and “broadly in line with consensus”.
Numis noted: “Net debt position, bearing in mind the fundraising has not been completed, was better than we had expected, with a big working capital inflow and low capital expenditure. The fundraising looks as though it will proceed, providing the business with about £20m net of fees to accelerate new store openings and refurbs.
“Starting from a clean post-CVA base, there is a clear opportunity for Blacks to recover a 5% earnings before tax margin, suggesting further upside from here.”
Blacks’ online arm was profitable for the first time in the full year, with sales up 87%.