Major outdoor group Blacks Leisure saw its sales fall more than five per cent in recent weeks, despite a rise in the sale of tents and other camping gear attributed to Britons abandoning expensive air travel for canvas holidays at home.
Camping is enjoying a resurgence as fuel prices hit foreign travel
Outdoor goods sold 2.2 per cent less, while surf and boarding brand sales plummeted by 15.5 per cent. But shares in the company rose by almost two per cent on the news of the camping surge, which has also been boosted by music festival-goers.
The company’s chief executive Neil Gillis said campsites in Britain were reporting bookings of 10 per cent more than last year.
Blacks, originally founded by a chandler from Greenock, on the Firth of Clyde, lost £9.3m in the year up to March 2008. It has 260 Millets stores, 110 Blacks outlets plus Freespirit and O’Neill boarding shops.
It has cut jobs at its headquarters in Northampton and a warehouse in Tyne and Wear.
Controversial entrepreneur Mike Ashley, owner of Newcastle United, holds nearly 25 per cent of Blacks shares and has criticised the company’s commercial strategy.
Several stores have been revamped and others are due to be changed to a layout based on brands rather than type of equipment.