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Smile on faces at Blacks Leisure.

Outdoorwear retailer Blacks Leisure yesterday said campers splashing out on equipment and clothing in the warm summer had helped it increase operating profits by 24pc to pounds 5.8m.

Blacks said an excellent camping season had helped sales in its Millets outdoor chain during the six months to August 31. Bottom-line pre-tax profits before goodwill were pounds 5.6m against pounds 3.9m.

A very strong season for summer clothing and footwear also boosted trade across its other businesses, including Blacks Outdoor, Free Spirit and Just Add Water.

The increase more than compensated for a drop in sales of adventure travel products, particularly in Blacks Outdoor, caused by the decline in overseas travel, the group said.

Blacks sold its sport and fashion business First Sports to rival JD Sports for pounds 53m last year, in order to focus on its outdoor and boardwear activities.

Chairman David Bernstein said the strong first-half growth across all aspects of the business reflected the success of the strategy.

Mr Bernstein said the success of the full year would depend on Christmas trading.

He added: "Having made a satisfactory start to the second half, on top of an excellent first half result, we are optimistic about prospects for the year."

Blacks said the outdoor division had performed strongly, with sales increasing by 12.8pc in the first half to pounds 103m against pounds 91.2m previously.

Operating profits before goodwill increased by 41.9pc to pounds 4.9m.
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Title Annotation:Business Local
Publication:The Journal (Newcastle, England)
Date:Oct 25, 2003
Words:243
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