Luminar, Britain’s biggest nightclub operator, has this morning unveiled a first-half drop in like-for-likes of 2.4%. The group said that underlying like-for-like sales – excluding the impact of units currently closed for refurbishment – were down 0.3%. The company, led by Stephen Thomas, also said the headline figure came after like-for-like sales growth in the first half of last year of 4.1%. At the company’s branded dancing clubs, which accounts for 48 of Luminar’s 74 Dancing Division clubs included in the yearly sales comparisons, like-for-likes stayed in positive territory, at 2.1%. Last year the branded units produced comparable growth of 13.4%. In a pre-close trading statement for the six months to 28 August, the company said that sales during the summer period had continued to be difficult, although footfall had strengthened slightly in August after some “trading initiatives”. It also said that the contraction of the late-night market was strengthening Luminar’s competitive position. The company said it was continuing to manage the business tightly and to control costs in line with demand. It expected to make cost savings in the second half of the year of £2.5m. The opening of Oceana Watford last night meant that it had opened seven units so far this year and would ad one more branded venue this year in November. Luminar said it had net debts of £159m and total facilities of £180m, which would not need renegotiating until 2012. £140m of those facilities were hedged at an average rate of 6.3%. The group is expected to report its interim results in November.