Blacks bases growth on ecommerce ambitions

Blacks Leisure Group, which owns outdoor clothing specialists Blacks and Millets, is looking to shift the focus of its business by becoming an online retailer supported by a store network.

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The retail group is planning to offer a broader product range online with the ability to have orders delivered to stores, check store availability and make appointments with in-store specialists.

Ralph Percival, who was appointed as ecommerce director in January to lead the multichannel development, says: “We tend to be structured around stores, but the website is by far our largest store. We will use the website to leverage the overall business.

“The long-term goal is to display the largest range of outdoor clothing and products offered by any retailer online, and combine this with stores.”

Blacks has partnered with CRM specialist Blue Bridge to improve its understanding of customers and identify a single customer view to drive the development of its multi-channel operations and customer communications.

It is part of a transformation strategy designed to return the business to profit following a Company Voluntary Agreement in 2009, which saw it close 100 stores to avoid administration.

Percival’s appointment was part of a wider management restructure designed to give more focus on online operations and marketing.

The group reduced its operating losses to £7.1m from £8.7m in the six months to 28 August.

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