Blacks narrows losses as takeover talks progress

Outdoor goods retailer Blacks Leisure said takeover talks with several parties continued, first half pre-tax loss narrowed and it suspended its interim dividend.

The 317-store company, which runs the Blacks Outdoor and Millets chains, reiterated that preliminary discussions could lead to a bid for all or parts of its business.

The company came close to administration last year before striking a rescue deal with creditors that saw it close over 100 stores.

Blacks Leisure said margins had improved in the autumn/winter season and its core outdoor segment's like-for-like sales fell 3.5 per cent in the second-half to date.

For the first half ended Aug 28, the company posted loss before tax of £8.5m, compared with £15.2m a year ago.

Sales fell by 22.6 per cent to £90.6m, reflecting the reduction in the number of loss-making stores since last year.

Like-for-like sales for the first half decreased six per cent in the core outdoor segment, resulting from continuing difficult trading conditions, Blacks Leisure said.

It had 412 stores last year.