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Blacks steps up storefit roll-out

Blacks Leisure will speed up the roll-out of its new store concepts for its Blacks and Millets chains next year, after sales leapt dramatically at its trial stores.

Sales and profits at Blacks’ Kensington High Street store in London have risen 29% since the refit in March and rocketed 36% at its store in Holborn, also in London.

Blacks Leisure chief executive Neil Gillis said the trials had gone “fantastically well” and Blacks stores in Newcastle upon Tyne, Manchester and Edinburgh have been flagged for the next stage of refurbishments in September.

The group partly refitted a Millets store in Croydon, Surrey, earlier this year, but will open a revamped branch in Bristol this autumn and two or three more revamped Millets in September.

Blacks’ more fashion-driven new format features branded areas for key labels including The North Face, Animal and Roxy. The chain’s black and white logo has been replaced by a more modern orange and white graphic featuring a mountain motif, while the stores have 15% less stock than previously.

The new-look stores are part of Blacks Leisure’s turnaround strategy after a difficult few years of trading. Gillis said: “Blacks Leisure has had a tough few years, but we are starting to come out of that. There has been a huge increase in camping holidays in the UK, and we’re the UK’s largest camping supplier.”

Last week, the group sacked Darren Spurling, the managing director of its Sandcity subsidiary, after an investigation into accounting discrepancies. A spokesman said there was no suggestion of fraud. Sandcity, which runs boardsports business O’Neill in the UK, will merge with the group’s other boardsports brand, Freespirit.

The boardsports division made a loss of £3.2 million for the year to March 1. The outdoor arm, which includes Blacks and Millets, grew its operating profit excluding exceptional items to £7.4m in the year to March 1, from £2.5m the previous year.

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