THE struggling owner of nightclub chains Liquid and Oceana today reported an improving sales trend after attracting customers through its Jongleurs comedy nights and a new cocktail bar concept.

Luminar, which has 77 outlets and also operates the Lava & Ignite brand, said sales were down 9.7% in the nine weeks to July 2, compared with an 11.7% decline in the 18 weeks to the same date.

The better-than-expected performance came after the group rolled out Jongleurs comedy nights to seven of its venues and opened five WooWoo cocktail bars next to its clubs as part of a drive to broaden its appeal beyond its traditional 18 to 24 year old market.

It is also been putting on special offers at some of its clubs to pull in crowds in an increasingly competitive market. It said a reduction in margins was "largely" being offset by the increased admissions.

The Milton Keynes based group has also been running more student nights and live DJs and acts to refresh its appeal and plans to open five more Jongleurs nights and four more WooWoo bars in coming months.

Earlier this year, the group was thrown a lifeline by its banks despite announcing falling sales and a near doubling in full-year losses to £198 million.

Lloyds, Barclays and Royal Bank of Scotland all agreed to waive a loan covenant test which had been due at the end of the May and to provide cash until the end of August while a long-term recovery plan is put in place. Luminar today said it is still in constructive discussions with its banks.

Shares were up 7% after today’s announcement.