Blacks finding the long dry spell is a dampener
Outdoor gear specialist Blacks Leisure said sales of waterproof clothing and footwear had dried up as Britain enjoyed one of “longest dry spells on record”.
The retailer, which also owns the Millets chain, said sales had tumbled in the past eight weeks in “abnormally dry conditions. It has been an average of three degrees warmer each month since January,” said Blacks Leisure finance director Peter Hartley.
He said the retailer usually benefited from the vagaries of the British weather but after a particularly good “camping and hiking” season it had not seen the expected uplift in waterproof paraphernalia.
Like-for-like sales fell 11.8 per cent in the first eight weeks of the second half against the strong comparatives driven by last year’s extremely wet August and September.
However, the half-year results were well received by analysts as better supplier deals, more own brands and less discounting delivered margin gains. Pre-tax profit in the six months to 31 August rose 12 per cent to £6.9m on sales of £140m.
Hartley said the group, which also owns Free Spirit and O’Neill, would continue to drive margins with new clothing ranges Technicals and Rare Species.
Investec analyst Mark Charnock said a cold winter could boost sales but “to be prudent” expects to cut his forecast back by £2m to £22m.