UK outdoor and action-sports retailer Blacks Leisure Group announced yesterday that it will begin closing 89 of its more than 850 retail stores that are not turning a profit and eliminating 50 positions. The company, which operates doors under the above listed names has fallen on difficult times lately.
According to Blacks: On 22 September 2009 Blacks announced that it had agreed a standstill with its lender, Lloyds Banking Group (“Lloyds”), in respect of an expected covenant breach at the end of September. The standstill agreement was subject to the Company delivering a restructuring plan acceptable to the Company’s bank, Lloyds, which included an exit of the Company’s loss making stores. As a first step in that restructuring plan, the Company announced on 23 September 2009 that Sandcity, part of the Boardwear division, had been placed in administration.
Today the Company is announcing two further steps in its restructuring plan. First, it has begun the closure and employee consultation process on 89 loss making stores whose performance has been a considerable drag on the core outdoor business which has traded successfully over the last two years. The vast majority of the stores to be closed have not traded profitably for many years.
Second, the Company will now enter into a period of consultation with employees at its Northampton head office regarding the reduction of approximately 50 roles, representing about 20% of the total head office workforce.
Whilst it is highly regrettable that the Company is having to take these steps, both actions will ultimately strengthen the business and help ensure that a successful and profitable outdoor retailer emerges from the current restructuring process.
However, further restructuring is still required to satisfy the condition to the standstill agreement, which the Company continues to develop with its advisers, KPMG.