UK: JD Sports Fashion reverses plan to phase out Millets brand

The Millets brand is to survive following a U-turn by new owner JD Sports Fashion

The Millets brand is to survive following a U-turn by new owner JD Sports Fashion

JD Sports Fashion yesterday announced a reprieve for the Millets brand as it continues with efforts to revive its loss-making Blacks outdoor business.

JD Sports said the goodwill shown by customers meant that it no longer intended to ditch the brand in favour of using the Blacks name for all its outdoor clothing stores.

The Blacks and Millets estate racked up a loss of £14.9million in the year to February 2, the biggest factor behind an 18% fall in overall group profits to £55.1m.

However, JD said it was confident that a new management team and updated ranges at the Blacks and Millets stores would reduce the loss this year.

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.

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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.”

The decline in the overall group profits also partly reflected a loss of £500,000 from its division housing fashion brands Bank and Scotts. However, JD is its core sports stores continued to trade strongly.