JD Sports Fashion chairman Peter Cowgill aims to turn a profit at Blacks in the next financial year.
The sports retailer acquired the loss-making Blacks business out of administration earlier this month and underperforming stores are likely to be closed.
Cowgill said: “We’re as confident as we can be [of turning it around]. We hope to be making a profit in the next 12 months.”
In its first half to August 27, Blacks’ loss before tax widened to £16m from £7.2m last year.
Cowgill said the immediate focus of the outdoor retailer is to negotiate more sensible rents on viable stores and to improve Blacks’ offer.
He said he backs current management led by chief executive Julia Reynolds. Her turnaround plan involves shedding 90 shops to create a 200-store portfolio, although Cowgill said it was “too early to say for sure” how many stores would be axed.
“Even after substantial rent reductions, some stores won’t be viable,” Cowgill said.
The JD boss believes its strong relationship with the brands it stocks helped it win the race to buy Blacks.
Rival Sports Direct also tabled an offer for Blacks but failed due to opposition from brands, in particular North Face, which blocked its previous bid to buy the outdoor group.
JD posted a 1.6% festive sales lift for the five weeks to January 7. Cowgill said he was “over the moon” with its performance, especially as the sales growth was not driven by promotions.