Land of Leather has announced a slump in like-for-like sales and the retirement of chief executive Paul Briant.

The sofa specialist has appointed Steve Jenkins as chief executive with effect from August 4.

Land of Leather – which reported in January that profits for the year would be “significantly below” 2007 – said that like-for-likes fell 16 per cent in the 26 weeks to January 27 and total sales order intake was down 4 per cent. Revenue was up 15 per cent to£133.3 million.

Gross margin fell from 45.1 percentage points during the first half of its 2007 financial year to 41.8 percentage points. Profit before tax and exceptional items was£5.5 million compared with£8.4 million during the same period last year.

Land of Leather chairman Roger Matthews said that, like its peers, Land of Leather has been hit by the downturn in demand for big-ticket household goods.

He said that Land of Leather would be well-positioned to increase profits quickly when consumer confidence returns, thanks to its strong balance sheet, net cash balances of£16.3 million at its half year and its differentiated retail proposition.

Matthews also said that last year’s deteriorating trading conditions, because of the economic crunch led to a January Sale that was well below Land of Leather’s expectations.

“Against this background, our low-cost business model and track record of effectively managing costs and cash will support trading through this challenging period,” he added.

Land of Leather operates 108 stores.