Blacks hires new chief exec as it narrows losses

BLACKS Leisure yesterday named Julia Reynolds as its new chief executive as the outdoor retailer tries to complete a dramatic turnaround after surviving being on the brink of adminstration.

Reynolds has been working as chief executive at lingerie retail website which was bought by N Brown last year.

She has overseen growth of sales in the role and Blacks is hoping she can breathe new life into its business.

Before Figleaves, Reynolds spent nine years at Tesco, where she was one of the founders of the Florence & Fred clothing range.

She also came up with the idea for a £3 pair of jeans, which stunned Tesco’s rivals.

She will join Blacks towards the end of the summer. She replaces Neil Gillis, a turnaround specialist recruited to nurse the company back to health.

Gillis announced in February that he would be stepping down from the company, leaving Reynolds with a tough job on her hands.

“Julia is a very experienced buyer and retailer who will join us from where, as chief executive, she drove a period of significant growth and improvement in results,” said Blacks chairman David Bernstein. The company closed 88 stores in 2009 through company voluntary agreements with its landlords.

But Blacks said yesterday it had cut full-year pre-tax losses from £43.6m to £5.3m from revenues down from £241m to £202m for the 12 months to 26 February.