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Gillis steps down as CEO of Blacks Leisure


Outdoor products retailer Blacks Leisure has today announced the departure of its CEO Neil Gillis, after accepting his resignation.

Gillis will now work a remaining six months in the position while the Nomination Committee of Blacks Leisure, owner of retail brands Blacks and Millets, picks a successor.

First-half results published in October showed the company making £7.1 million in losses during the period despite reducing operational costs by 22 per cent compared to the previous year.

Gillis commented: “I am proud of what we have achieved with Blacks Leisure over the last three years. We took some difficult decisions to protect and strengthen the business during a very turbulent economic period and an intensely competitive environment in outdoor retail.

“The exit from the loss making Sandcity business, the reduction in central overheads of £9 million, the successful implementation of the CVAs and the success of the new store rollout programme were the key steps to position the business for recovery.”

Before joining the retailer in 2007, Gillis was CEO of health, wellbeing and fitness business Esporta for almost four years, and previous to that he was Managing Director of Greene King Pub Group.

“I have always seen my role with the company as a three year period of intense activity and I believe that it is right for another individual to lead the business in the final phase of the turnaround programme,” Gillis added.

Blacks Leisure called off its search for a buyer last month after several companies expressed an interest but Gillis’ resignation may now restart the process.

Increased competition from rivals in the sector, including recent success story Go Outdoors, has piled extra pressure on the retailer as it tries to restructure the business.

Chairman for Blacks Leisure David Bernstein said: “Neil has steered the business skilfully through some difficult times and we are grateful for his work over the last three years.

“Neil will be staying with the business over the next six months to ensure a smooth and effective transition as we complete the final phase of the turnaround plan.”

Published on Thursday 10 February by Editorial Assistant

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