Absent clubbers knock Luminar

The owner of nightclub chains Liquid and Oceana yesterday posted a severe decline in sales over the Christmas season as clubbers avoided the freezing weather and stayed at home.

Luminar reported a 19.4 per cent drop in like-for-like sales in the 12 weeks to January 6 but said same-outlet sales over the Christmas and New Year weeks were still ahead of anticipated levels.

Even after excluding the weeks affected by the weather, Luminar's sales declined by 13.6 per cent on a like-for-like basis.

But shares in the company lifted as the performance was an improvement on declines witnessed earlier in the year.

The Milton Keynes-based company also warned its recent introduction of premium brands into the nightclubs has dented its profit margins.

The decline in sales comes despite Luminar introducing high-end brands, cocktails, live entertainment and clubnights promoted by record label Hed Kandi, which it said were well received.

The marketing moves formed part of new chief executive Simon Douglas' turnaround strategy and included a tie-up with dance music brand Ministry of Sound.

The company has had a difficult year, with sales declining 19.6 per cent on a like-for-like since March as hard-pressed clubbers opted to stay at home.

Luminar was hammered by youth unemployment in the recession, while the distraction of the World Cup added to trading pressures over the summer.

It posted a hefty pre-tax, pre-exceptionals loss of 35.7m in the 26 weeks to August 28.