Ex-Brunswick chief to expand Frontier chain

Mark Blackburn, former managing director of Famous Brunswick Warehouse, will now focus on expansion of his Frontier Shoe business.

Blackburn left Brunswick Warehouse last month after parent Tradegro put the chain into administration.

He founded Frontier two-and-a-half years ago and hopes to grow the chain to approximately 20 stores - 10 in Greater London and 10 in other big cities - within the next three to five years. He has won bank funding for the expansion drive.

At present, there are two Frontier shops. The original, in Soho, generated like-for-like sales up 26 per cent for the year ending October 2002.

A second shop opened in Newcastle-upon-Tyne on Christmas Eve to make best use of the Christmas and January Sale period. It is being refurbished at present and will be completed by the end of this month and relaunched next month.

Blackburn said he is looking at two more properties in the capital, including one in Camden and one in west London. He hopes to open the next shop by June.

The expansion of Frontier coincides with the move in the sports fashion and footwear industry from mainstream sports to niche sports.

'There is a move away from big brand white trainers to up and coming brands such as skate, outdoor and retro brands,' said Blackburn.

Frontier sells labels such as Gola, Converse and Airwalk.

Famous Brunswick Warehouse was formerly part of Brown & Jackson, which decided to concentrate on its Poundstretcher chain.