Blacks Leisure enjoys winter sales boost

Blacks shop sign
Image caption Chief executive Neil Gillis said he expects Blacks to return to profit even if the takeover talks fail

Blacks Leisure, the outdoor clothes retailer, has said the recent Arctic weather conditions have boosted sales.

The company, which owns the Blacks and Millets brands, said like-for-like sales in its outdoor business rose 10.2% in December.

This helped lift overall group like-for-like sales for the six month to end-December to a decline of 0.1%.

Blacks is in talks with parties interested in buying all or parts of the business.

In October, Blacks had announced it had received several takeover approaches. In its latest trading update it said talks over these were "on-going and a further announcement will be made in due course".

However, the company said that it expected to return to profit if the acquisition talks fail.

Blacks' shares were up 5% to 42p in morning trading.

'Turnaround programme'

Blacks came close to administration in 2009 before striking a rescue deal with creditors .

As part of restructuring plans, Blacks has closed many of its loss-making stores, leaving it with about 300 outlets.

Total sales in the period from 28 August to 30 December were £85.4m, down from £95.8m in the same period last year, reflecting stores closed in the restructuring programme.

Although like-for-like sales were down 0.1%, Blacks said margins were better than in 2009.

Chief executive Neil Gillis said: "The group has performed strongly during the key Christmas trading period highlighting the strength of our offering in what continues to be a challenging retail market.

"The turnaround programme remains on track and we enter the New Year in a positive financial position and focused on continuing to deliver the benefits of the turnaround strategy," Mr Gillis said.

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