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Sales drop at Blacks Leisure Group
16
Jul '11
Blacks Leisure, the UK's leading retailer of outdoor specialist clothing, footwear and equipment, issues the following interim management statement for the 19 week period from the start of its financial year on 27 February 2011 to 9 July 2011.

Total Group sales were £54.6 million compared to £61.3 million for the same period last year. Like-for-like sales (net of VAT) for the period were 9.7% below last year. Although sales for the period were below our expectations, we have maintained gross margins and controlled overheads. Furthermore, the Group's performance has seen an improving trend as the financial year has progressed, and like-for-like sales for the six weeks since the end of May were 3.2% ahead of last year.

As previously announced, we have begun to implement a plan to exit fully from the Boardwear market and focus on the core Outdoor market. Three Freespirit stores have been converted to the Blacks fascia and one store lease surrendered during the period under review; the remaining five stores are in the process of withdrawing from Boardwear and will then be rebranded to other Group fascias or the leases surrendered back to the landlords.

Since the year end the Group's indebtedness has increased significantly due to both normal seasonal factors and the challenging market conditions affecting the UK retail sector as a whole. Therefore, the Group has been working alongside its bankers, Bank of Scotland plc, to extend and increase its banking facilities.

The Group has agreed, subject only to completing documentation, an extension to the availability of its existing seasonal peak facility together with an additional short term facility such that the Group will have total bank facilities of up to £40 million until 15 December 2011 at which point the facilities will revert to the previously agreed core facility of £35 million supplemented, during certain periods, by the seasonal peak facility of £3 million.

The extension of banking facilities is accompanied by an amendment to the covenants which, from February 2012, will revert to those previously set. In view of the maturity of its existing facilities in November 2012, the Board will seek to refinance its existing banking facilities in such time to ensure that the Group has appropriate arrangements in place for its future requirements.

The Board is also considering the Group's overall capital requirements with a view to strengthening its capital structure and providing a platform to support the Group's plans for development and growth.

The Board is pleased to confirm that Julia Reynolds will formally take up her appointment as Chief Executive and as a Director of Blacks Leisure with effect from 1 August 2011. There are no additional details relating Ms Reynolds' appointment that are required to be disclosed pursuant to paragraph 9.6.13 of the Listing Rules.

Blacks Leisure Group PLC

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