JD Sports Fashion is set to roll out a new store format for Blacks as part of its turnaround plan, which is likely to see sister brand Millets leave the high street.
JD chief executive Barry Bown told Retail Week the retailer is “debating having a single brand” within the outdoor division.
“Blacks has the stronger proposition,” he said. “Millets is slightly more value orientated but it has its audience. We’ve already merged some of the offer. It’s about working out how to transfer it into one store.”
A new store format launched for Blacks in St Pauls, London last month which will be rolled out to a further five stores in time for Christmas before a wider roll out across the estate next year.
Bown said he was encouraged by the St Paul’s revamp where like-for-likes had “improved substantially”.
The store has clearer navigation and distinctive departments for each category, including a store-in-store for womenswear. It also features video screens explaining the technical qualities of the outdoor equipment.
The retailer - which has already closed nearly 100 of the 300 Blacks and Millets stores it acquired when it bought Blacks out of administration in January - plans to close a further 50 stores to bring the portfolio down to 150.
The outdoor division made a £10m loss in its first half, which JD anticipated earlier this year, however Bown insisted the turnaround is on track and it will break even in the second half.
JD is also planning to close Blacks’ Northampton distribution centre, moving operations to JD’s Rochdale warehouse from March next year. Bown said that it is considering keeping a satellite Blacks office in Northampton, where its current head office is based, with commercial, buying and merchandise teams remaining there.
JD’s operating profit was dragged down to £2.9m by the Blacks loss in its first half to July 28. However, the retailer’s like-for-likes edged up 1.1% over the period while sales soared 26.4% to £556m.
Bown said that JD had no interest in buying JJB Sports and it was unlikely that it would acquire any stores as they are too large for the its format.