Blacks Leisure chief executive Neil Gillis said the outdoor chain is looking to replace him with a traditional retailer to steer the firm back into the black.

Gillis, who resigned last month and will leave in August, said the business has been readied for a retail specialist to take the reins. Gillis had no experience of retailing and was regarded as a turnaround specialist, which was what the firm needed when he joined in 2007.

He also said he expected his successor to guide the outdoor retailer to profit in their first year in charge.

He said: “I was there to sort out the corporate side of things. Now that the equity is secure and cost-cutting completed, it needs a dedicated retailer.”

Blacks has begun the hunt for Gillis’ replacement. Gillis plans to work alongside his successor before he departs. He said the breakdown of a potential Blacks sale did not influence his decision but admitted he had found his three and a half years in charge “quite draining”.

During his tenure, Blacks exited its loss-making Sandcity business, reduced overheads by £9m and implemented a CVA closing 89 loss-making stores. It has since begun to roll out a new store format.

The Blacks boss claimed he had already been approached by another retailer seeking a turnaround specialist.