• Closed stores drag sales
  • LFLs down 17%
  • New loyalty card rollout

Retailer Blacks Leisure posted a 30% slump in sales in the 17 weeks to the end of June, hit by poor trading in May and last year’s widespread store closures.

On the day of its AGM, the UK company said group sales were GBP53.9m (US$82.2m), with the decline primarily due to the 107 shops closed down during last year’s restructuring.

Like-for-like sales were down 17%, described as “disappointing” by Blacks, thanks to very difficult trading conditions in May.

But the company said other months in the trading period had been in line with expectations, and it highlighted a 1.1% increase in gross margins.

Blacks said it had made “very good progress” with its new store opening programme, with seven outlets open so far and another eight to follow between now and the end of the financial year.

Trading in these new stores was described as “very encouraging”, with sales per square foot up by 39% in comparison with the rest of the retail estate.

Blacks said its board was confident that its plans for the key winter trading period were well advanced, incorporating a number of initiatives including a new customer loyalty card, a training programme and a range of new, exclusive branded lines.

Meanwhile, former Blacks executive director and ex-JJB Sports chief executive Tom Knight has been named as a non-executive director of the company with effect from 1 August.