Weather hits five-a-side company

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Sales for Goals Soccer Centres were lifted in 2010 by the World Cup

Goals Soccer Centres has said its post-World Cup sales revival was brought to an end last year as the snowy weather in December wiped £900,000 from its profits.

The UK’s fastest growing branded operator of five-a-side football pitches said like-for-like sales, which exclude the opening of new centres, were down 4% in 2010 as adverse weather kept players away from its 41 centres at the start and the end of the year.

The East Kilbride-based firm estimates that without the impact of the weather, like-for-like sales would have increased by 1%.

Sales struggled in the first half of 2010, but lifted by 3% in the two months after the World Cup in the summer as interest in the tournament drove a rise in bookings for children’s parties and corporate events.

But the snow at the end of the year pushed sales down again as operating profits for the year slumped 6% to £10 million.

It said the total adverse weather hit for 2010 was £1.7 million, including the impact of snowfall at the start of last year.

However, Goals provided some cheer after reporting a 5% increase in like-for-like sales in the first 55 days of 2011, helped by easier comparatives from a year earlier.

The company, which has a 42% share of the branded five-a-side football market, opened five new centres in the year at Liverpool, Portsmouth, Ipswich, and Eltham and Hounslow in London.

In the past two months it has opened three centres, in Sunderland, Liverpool and Norwich, which were delayed by the bad weather, and plans to open a minimum of four centres a year.

Overall sales were up 6% to £27.8 million, helped by opening new centres in the UK and a new centre in Los Angeles – its first in the US. Goals said its growing network of centres leaves it well placed to take advantage of the growing popularity of 5-a-side football.

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