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Blacks Leisure Group refocuses on multichannel

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‘Best in class’ multichannel services will be at the heart of a fresh strategy aimed at turning around lossmaking activewear-to-camping-equipment retailer Blacks Leisure Group .

The company, which is now headed by a new management team that includes chief executive Julia Reynolds, who previously held the same role at and Peter Williams, formerly of Selfridges and ASOS, as non-executive chairman, says improvements in the way online and offline shopping connect will be an important part of the ongoing, urgent review of its business strategy, due to be published soon.

The review is looking at the positioning of the group’s two brands, Blacks and Millets, both in-store and online, as well as at ways of improving its retail processes and investing in its stores.

“The potential of the on-line business can be exploited to a much greater extent through consistent positioning and an improved multi-channel offer,” Blacks said in its half-year statement to the financial markets. The development of more own-label products, particularly for Millets, is also seen as an opportunity.

Blacks updated the stockmarket on its strategy yesterday as it released its results for the half-year to August 27 2011. Pre-tax losses from continuing operations increased to £16m, from £7.2m at the same time last year. At the same time, like-for-like sales fell by 7.2%, while total sales from the Blacks and Millets businesses fell to £81.1m from £86.8m last time.

Williams said: “Under new leadership and with a fresh strategy and significantly enhanced retail expertise, there is a real opportunity with the right funding structure for the business to re-establish its forward momentum.”

Reynolds added: “While the strategic planning process is nearing completion, it is already apparent that there are multiple opportunities to bring fresh retail ideas and disciplines to the business and more properly exploit its market leadership position, brand heritage and unparalleled brand recognition in the outdoor retail space. Notwithstanding the challenges of a difficult economic environment, the potential opportunity for a turnaround is clear.”

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