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Frontier founder Mark Blackburn shuts up shop

Sportswear and footwear veteran Mark Blackburn has sold his Frontier footwear stores and quit the industry.
Blackburn, who founded the Frontier chain more than eight years ago, sold his shops in London’s Soho and Hampstead to Frontier director and website manager Mark Turner this week. A third store in Llandudno in Wales has gone into receivership.

Blackburn has worked in the industry for nearly 25 years. He started as a van driver at Cobra Sports, rising to managing director in the 1990s and leading the acquisition of Champion Sports. He joined the now-defunct footwear chain Famous Brunswick Warehouse as chief executive in 2001 but left in 2003 to build his Frontier mini-chain.

At its height, Frontier had five stores, but the Newcastle upon Tyne and Chester shops closed recently due to rising rents.

Blackburn said the tougher climate for independents had driven him out of the industry. He said: “I’ve been in the business for a long time and it is becoming more difficult for indies. More competition and the growth in online sales, plus a poor summer and difficulty accessing the best cult product, are all contributing factors.”

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