The Forzani Group Ltd, Canada's largest sporting goods retailer, has swung to a first quarter loss after sales were hampered by poor weather.

For the three months to 4 May, net loss was CAD2.9m (US$2.8m), or CAD0.09 per share, including a loss of CAD1.3m, or CAD0.04 per share, from Athletes World.
That compares with earnings of CAD739,000, or CAD0.02, in the same quarter a year earlier.

Revenue, consisting of corporate store sales, wholesale sales, service income, equipment rentals, franchise fees and franchise royalties, rose 4.4% to CAD307.5m.

Retail sales for the quarter were up 8.3% to CAD334m from last year's $308.4m, helped by prior year acquisitions such as the bankrupt Athletes World chain and new store openings.

This offset declines in same-store corporate sales of 5.2%. Franchise same store results increased 3.1%.

Corporate sales were hampered by low inventories for clearance events, and unseasonable weather which delayed the sale of spring categories.

Weak performers were winter ski, snowboard, hockey, outerwear and accessories categories, casual clothing and footwear, but cycling, camping, fitness and racquets did well in spring.

Combined gross margin for the quarter was 34.3% of revenue, or CAD105.4m, compared to 33.3%, or $98.0m in the previous year.

Management said the weather continues to dampen its operations, and that for the first four weeks of the second quarter, same store sales from corporate stores were off 8.2% and, from franchise stores, off 7.1%.

"The cold, wet and late start to spring affected seasonal product categories such as summer tops, shorts and sandals in both the corporate and franchise businesses," the company said in a statement.

It also noted that Athletes World is expected to exit creditor protection at the end of June.

The Forzani Group operates 341 corporate stores and 227 franchise stores under banners including Sport Chek, Sport Mart, Coast Mountain Sports, National Sports, Athletes World and Hockey Experts.