A decision on the potential sale of Blacks Leisure is likely to be made within weeks after the outdoor specialist beat the big freeze to post a strong seasonal performance.
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The cold snap helped the retailer rack up like-for-like sales growth of 10.2% at its core outdoor division. The rise was against strong comparatives - like-for-likes climbed 14.9% in December 2009.
Blacks chief executive Neil Gillis said the retailer was a beneficiary of Arctic weather as shoppers bought warm clothing. Blacks gained market share and benefited from its high street locations.
The festive season performance helped Blacks’ outdoor arm deliver a like-for-like advance of 1.2% for the half year ending December 30. Group like-for-likes fell 0.1%.
Arden analyst Nick Bubb was unimpressed. He said: “Blacks being Blacks, the 10% like-for-like sales increase only made up for weak sales before so the year to date like-for-like outcome is little more than flat.”
Blacks’ 12 new and reformatted stores did well in the period. They now account for almost 10% of total sales across the retailer’s 313-strong portfolio. Gillis said Blacks would continue to expand and had “a very full pipeline” of store opportunities in the new financial year beginning in March.
Gillis said talks were ongoing with potential buyers of all or part of Blacks and a conclusion to the process was nearing. A decision is likely to be made on whether to proceed with offers received over the “next few weeks”.