Struggling outdoor retail group Blacks Leisure has parted company with its chief executive.

Russell Hardy will receive an undisclosed payout after being ousted from the post following disappointing trading. The group is in the process of closing about 45 of its stores.

Early last month, Blacks issued a statement saying climate change and its ensuing warm weather had hit sales and led to a pre-tax annual loss of nearly £14m. The company trades under the Blacks brand as well as Millets; it also owns the Freespirit boarding shops and runs the O’Neill brand. The Freespirit chain is believed to be being considered for sale.

One of the bidders may be Sports Direct, which also owns nearly 30 per cent of the Blacks group and is run by controversial founder Mike Ashley.

The company said: “The outlook for the first half will depend on the key summer season and the success of the new camping and summer clothing lines, which have started well."

Chairman David Bernstein said: “The priority going forward is to implement with urgency the necessary actions for Blacks Leisure to prosper as the leading specialist retailer in the growing outdoor and boardwear markets.”

Finance director Keith Fleming has stepped into the chief executive role temporarily and is tipped as a candidate to take up the position permanently.