Goals’ sales fall flat after tough first half

Goals' boss Keith Rogers will be spending more time in the US
Goals' boss Keith Rogers will be spending more time in the US
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Five-a-side football pitch operator Goals Soccer Centres today posted flat half-year sales after demand was hit by bad weather and “softness” in the casual market.

The East Kilbride-based firm, which has 46 centres in the UK and one in Los Angeles, also said that chief executive Keith Rogers would be spending more time in the US next year to oversee its growth plans, prompting the search for a UK managing director.

Sales in the six months to 30 June came in at £17.1 million, unchanged from a year ago, with underlying pre-tax profits edging up 1 per cent to £4.5m.

Goals said that trading since the start of the second half has been “challenging” in the UK, with like-for-like sales over the summer holidays declining by 10 per cent.

“This is due to tough comparable trading in the weeks following last year’s successful World Cup and a significant increase in both league and casual teams cancelling over the holiday period,” the company said.

“The board consider this to be market-driven, as team organisers struggled to find sufficient players for their game to go ahead, as players took advantage of the strong pound during a period of poor UK weather to holiday abroad.”

Although first-half sales in the UK fell 1 per cent to £16.4m, takings in the US jumped 22 per cent to £600,000, and the firm said the strong trading momentum at its LA centre has continued into the second half. Work on a second site is expected to start before the end of the year, while legalities have begun on a further three sites.

Rogers said: “Trading in the UK has been challenging resulting from a combination of external factors and tough comparatives. However, we remain confident in the UK’s long term favourable market dynamics, which Goals, with its leading and well invested national estate, recognised brand and use of technology is best placed to realise.

“The US opportunity remains compelling as evidenced by the ongoing strength in trading from our centre in Los Angeles, which is now the most successful in our estate. We have accelerated progress in terms of the site pipeline and put in place the infrastructure and resource to exploit our first mover advantage.”

Shareholders will receive an interim dividend of 0.675p a share on 4 December, unchanged from last time.