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Product guru Kilmartin to oversee Blacks overhaul

Former Primark buying and merchandising director Julian Kilmartin has been drafted into Blacks as a consultant to advise on its clothing, as part of new chief executive Julia Reynolds’ plans to revive the ailing outdoor chain.

Reynolds, who took the reins two weeks ago after previously being in charge of lingerie etailer Figleaves, said her first task is to refresh its product range. She said own brand offered a “huge opportunity” for the retailer and is planning to widen and improve its own-brand offer. She said: “Our own brand needs some serious attention.  Julian is the best in the business and he’s helping out on buying and merchandising.”

Reynolds also plans to increase the branded offer at Blacks.

Blacks owner Blacks Leisure last week brought in former Selfridges chief executive Peter Williams as interim chairman, replacing David Bernstein, who stepped down after pressure from major shareholder Sports Direct, which holds a 21% stake in Blacks Leisure.

Speculation has grown that the sportswear business, founded by Mike Ashley, is plotting a takeover bid for Blacks.

Williams confirmed that Blacks is planning another refinancing. He said the funds would give Reynolds room to invest in product and stores.

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