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Blacks prospers online as high street struggles continue

Angelica Mari

Troubled retailer Blacks has reported an increase in sales through its website, despite posting a generally gloomy set of results.

The camping and outdoor clothing firm, which owns the Blacks Outdoor and Millets chains, said like-for-like sales for the 19 weeks between 27 February and9 July were down 9.7% on last year.

But sales via its internet channel rose 44.2%. According to the company, a "new and improved web platform" for both www.blacks.co.uk and www.millets.co.uk has been launched in this last period, along with an expanded product range.

Internet sales accounted for 4.8% of total group sales on the 2.7% reported for the same period in 2010 and the company said it is targeting further growth in this channel during the coming year.

Blacks' debts have risen sharply this year and weaker sales forced the retailer to consider raising capital.

According to the company, its debt - £14.4m on February 26 - had "increased significantly due to both normal seasonal factors and the challenging market conditions affecting the UK retail sector", which forced it to renegotiate its debt facility with creditor Royal Bank of Scotland.


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