Blacks Leisure boosted by cold snap

OUTDOOR retailer Blacks Leisure today said the recent Arctic weather conditions boosted its turnaround plans as consumers snapped up jackets, scarves and hats.

The cold snap helped increase like-for-like sales in its outdoor business by 10.2 per cent in the key trading period of December, despite a strong set of comparative figures the previous year.

The company, which owns the Blacks and Millets brands, said the December performance lifted overall group like-for-like sales for the half-year to the end of December to a decline of just 0.1 per cent.

It is in talks with parties interested in buying all or parts of the business, but has insisted it will return to profit if a merger fails to go through.

As part of its turnaround plans, the retailer has closed many of its loss-making stores, leaving it with a core estate of about 300, introduced a loyalty card and recruited a team of 19 outdoor experts to advise customers.

It has revamped 12 stores, which now account for 10% of its sales, and plans to open another outlet next month.

Chief executive Neil Gillis said: "The group has performed strongly during the key Christmas trading period highlighting the strength of our offering in what continues to be a challenging retail market."