The new chief executive of outdoor retailer Blacks Leisure Group is Neil Gillis, the UK-based company has announced.

Gillis takes over with immediate effect and ends the company's five-month search for a new chief executive following the departure of Russell Hardy by mutual consent in June this year.

Most recently chief executive of health and fitness club company Esporta, Gillis has more than 20 years' experience of senior management in the UK consumer goods and leisure sectors. He has also worked for Greene King, Procter & Gamble, Cadbury and Heinz.

Blacks chairman David Bernstein said he was delighted with the appointment of Gillis. "He has an excellent record of achievement and the qualities to lead our group along the road to recovery," he added.

Gillis said: "This is a business in more high streets and locations across Britain than most and with a portfolio of brands with a special place in the nation's hearts. The next few years will be full of excitement and opportunity for us."

Keith Fleming, acting chief executive and finance director since June, will now revert to the roles of deputy chief executive and finance director.

Blacks recently announced a GBP0.6m (US$1.2m) loss in its first half of trading.