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Store closures impact revenues at Blacks Leisure
Jan '11
Blacks Leisure, the UK's leading retailer of outdoor specialist clothing and equipment, issues the following interim management statement for the period from the financial half year end of 28 August 2010 to 30 December 2010, which includes the key Christmas trading period.

Trading Update
The business has performed very strongly during the critical month of December. Total sales in the month for the Outdoor business were up 12.9% with like-for-like sales increasing by 10.2%. This is versus a strong set of comparatives from the same period last year, when like-for-like sales were up 14.9%.

This performance during December has contributed to the Outdoor business delivering positive like-for-like sales during the financial half year to date of 1.2%, with total Group like-for-like sales marginally decreasing by 0.1%. Importantly, margin performance has been stronger than in the comparable period in the previous year.

Total Group sales in the period since 28 August 2010 were £85.4m compared to £95.8m in the prior period - the reduction being largely as a result of the stores closed in the restructuring programme last year. The strong performance of the business over the winter period has helped us to offset the decline experienced by the business over the summer. As a consequence the Board is confident that results for the full year will meet internal management expectations.

New Stores
One of the most encouraging aspects of the recent performance has been the continued strong sales we have experienced from the 12 invested and new stores. These stores continue to represent almost 10% of total group sales. We will be opening a further new Blacks store in February 2011 and converting a Millets to the new Blacks format in the same month.

Update on Approaches
Following receipt of a number of unsolicited expressions of interest in the Company and/or parts of the Group's business, the Board appointed McQueen Limited as advisors in October to assess the seriousness and deliverability of these approaches. We remain in discussion with a number of parties who have put forward indicative offers for the whole and/or parts of the business. This process is on-going and a further announcement will be made in due course.

Neil Gillis, CEO commented: "I am pleased to announce that 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. The turnaround programme remains on track and we enter the New Year in a positive financial position and focussed on continuing to deliver the benefits of the turnaround strategy. The store opening programme has performed well this year and we are due to continue this with a further new store in February 2011 and additional opportunities in the pipeline for our new financial year beginning in March 2011."

Blacks Leisure Group PLC

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