Blacks Leisure told its shareholders yesterday that its outdoor retail sales had dropped by 2.2 percent on a same-store basis in the 19 weeks ended on July 12, compared with a buoyant trading period at the same time last year. The British group’s total same-store sales fell by 5.4 percent for the period, due to a decline of no less than 15.5 percent in its board sports division. However, the period ended most positively with a same-store sales increase of 6.1 percent for the first 12 days of July, as more British families decided to spend their holidays in the U.K. to save money, and pumped it into the purchase of camping products.

Furthermore, the company said that its cost cuts were ahead of expectations, since it already achieved year-on-year savings of £2.4 million (€3.0m-$4.8m) against the target of £3 million (€3.7m-$6.0m) for the full financial year. Combined with improved margins, these cost reductions lifted profit before tax above the level of last year. Just as encouragingly, efforts to manage the group’s working capital have reduced stocks by 12.4 percent compared with the same time last year.

Separately, the two Blacks pilot stores recently opened with an upgraded format at Kensington and Holborn are trading above expectations, and the group is on track to convert 3 Blacks stores and two Millets outlets to new formats in September.