Blacks Leisure is pressing ahead with a £20m fundraising as sales start to improve for the outdoor retailer after a year of major restructuring across the business.

The money raised will be used to fund growth for Blacks including the opening of 35 new stores and refurbishment of some of its current portfolio.

Blacks had initially proposed a fundraising in February but this was stopped after Mike Ashley bought back his 29% stake in the business to block the attempt and then made an unsuccessful bid for the company through his Sports Direct chain.

In its full year results announced today Blacks said that total group loss before tax was £46.9m, including impairment charges and a £19m charge for the Company Voluntary Arrangement (CVA) it completed to exit 88 stores last year.

Its ongoing portfolio recorded a £7.9m loss, in line with market expectations.

Sales for the year to February 27 were ahead 5.4% on a like-for-like basis, sales growth from its ongoing estate in the second half grew 9.5%.

Total group sales for the year decreased 7% to £249m, reflecting the smaller size of the business.

Blacks chairman David Bernstein said: “The group has made progress in what has been a difficult but ultimately productive year. As a result of the CVAs, the group is ready to accelerate the final phase of the turnaround plan, with the net proceeds from the fundraising announced today being principally to invest in the current estate and open new stores in towns and cities where we are not currently represented.”