Belfast Telegraph

Millets reprieved as JD Sports fights to return to the black

By Graeme Evans

JD Sports Fashion has announced a reprieve for the Millets brand as it attempts to revive its loss-making Blacks outdoor chain.

The Bury-based group said the "considerable support and goodwill" shown by customers meant that it no longer intended to ditch the brand in favour of using the Blacks name.

The estate racked up losses of £14.9m after an "exceptionally difficult" year but JD Sports said it was confident that a new management team and updated ranges will reduce the figure this year.

Despite strong trading in its sports stores, JD's overall profits were 18% lower at £55.1m in the year to February 2, including losses of £500,000 from its division housing brands Bank and Scotts.

JD has admitted the challenge of reviving the Blacks business, which it bought out of administration for £20m in January 2012, has been tougher than expected.

It has closed 122 outdoor stores in the last year as it looks to eliminate a high rent bill, resulting in a portfolio of 174 stores. This will be reduced further to around 140 outlets, 10 more than JD originally planned.

Around 60 of the surviving estate will be under the Millets name, which JD now views as a good outlet for its own brands Peter Storm and Eurohike.

It added: "The Blacks stores will primarily stock more technical products from the premium brands at higher price points with Millets catering for a more casual outdoor customer."

Belfast Telegraph