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Growth in online sales at Blacks

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Blacks Leisure Group, owner of the Blacks and Millets outdoor activity brands, says ecommerce sales has risen by 74% so far in the second half of its year.

The figure follows a 38% rise in online sales in the first half of the year, and takes the online division, led by ecommerce director Giles Delafeld, pictured, to the point where it now generates five per cent of total sales within the group.

The update came as Blacks reported its interim results for the six months to August 28 2010.

Group sales fell by 22.6% to £90.6m, from £116.9m in the same period last year, reflecting a fall in the number of trading sites. Like-for-like sale fell by 6% in the outdoor market, while operating losses fell to £7.1m from £8.7m last time.

Chief executive Neil Gillis said initiatives including a £1m investment in in-store training and skills assessment, the recruitment of 19 specialist group advisers, the launch of the Blacks loyalty card, which now has 60,000 members, and the development of a new running category in 42 stores “should enable the business to achieve completion of the turnaround programme”.

Blacks, which has been in turnaround for the last two years, is currently in talks about a possible sale of the company.

Chairman David Bernstein said: “As we have entered the Autumn/Winter season, we have seen improved margins and outdoor like-for-like sales have improved to a 3.5% reduction in the second half to date.

“Whilst still early in the season, this provides us with confidence as we enter our seasonal peak and, as in previous years, the outcome for the full financial year will depend greatly on trading in the remainder of the year.”

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