Active apparel and rugged footwear retailer Blacks Leisure Group Plc on Wednesday revealed it swung to a first half profit and said current trading was strong.

The company posted a pre-tax profit of £3.9 million for the first six months of 2002, compared to a year-ago loss of £900,000 when its sales were hit by the nationwide foot-and-mouth outbreak.

Turnover jumped to £103.5m from £76.8m with like-for-like sales in the continuing group up 14.5 per cent. The figures for the continuing group reflect the £53.2m sale of its sport and fashion division to JD Sports in May.

Chairman David Bernstein said like-for-like sales in the first eights weeks of the second half were up 8.1 per cent.

He added: "The continuing group has performed ahead of expectations in the first six months of the year, even allowing for the expected recovery from last year's foot and mouth epidemic.

"Strong sales growth has been seen on an overall and like-for-like basis during an excellent summer season which is reflected in the substantial increase in continuing operating profit."