Goals slows down rapid expansion

Goals Soccer Centre has seen its sales rise in the first half of this year but it is slowing down its development of new five-a-side centres.

Profits at the company, based in East Kilbride, were up 46% to £4m.

That reflects rapid expansion at Goals, with a 30% increase in the number of centres in just 18 months.

It has 43 centres open, and plans to develop 40 more, claiming to have 42% of the branded five-a-side market.

Goals has added four centres in the first half of this year, in Sunderland, Liverpool, Norwich and Hull, with a further one under construction in Chester.

It is now trialling a new construction method at Chester, with the hope of reducing development costs of a standard new centre from £2.2m to £1.5m, while cutting the time that takes from 22 weeks to 14.

Until that trial is completed, it has postponed two further new centres from the second half of this year until next year.

At least four centres are planned for opening next year.

However, the company has noted that growth of business at new centres is slower than expected.

Its new centre in Los Angeles is still making a loss due to marketing costs.

Business over the first half of the year grew each month, with the exception of April.

Marketing campaign

Sir Rodney Walker, the company's chairman, said: "We have since experienced softer than expected trading during the second half of July and through August.

"However, we fully expect a return to the trading levels seen in the first half of the year, in part aided by our 'Get Back in the Game' marketing campaign encouraging summer-lapsed players to get back to playing in early September."

The firm has found football spending by customers at Goals Soccer Centres has increased slightly, but bar and vending machine sales, which account for 18% of business, were down.

Corporate events and sponsorship revenue was down 16%.

Keith Rogers, Goals' managing director, said he was "satisfied" with company performance amid current economic difficulties.

He said faster and cheaper modular building of new pavilions would help to reduce costs with "a strong rollout strategy", while helping to reduce company debt.

Total liabilities at the end of June stood at £70.6m, up from £57m a year before.