Blacks closes 90 stores and axes 50 staff

City A.M. Reporter
OUTDOOR goods retailer Blacks Leisure plans to close 89 loss-making stores and axe about 50 head-office jobs, it said yesterday, as part of a recovery plan it hopes will win the support of its banks.<br /><br />The firm, which has over 400 stores including the Blacks Outdoor and Millets chains, said the job losses represented about 20 per cent of headcount at its head office in Northampton, central England, and that it still had more restructuring to do.<br /><br />Blacks said earlier this month it expected to breach its lending arrangements after worse than expected trading at its surfwear business and at loss-making stores.<br /><br />It said Lloyds Banking Group had agreed to freeze its lending agreements until 30 November, on condition it comes up with an acceptable turnaround plan by 30 October.<br /><br />A day later it put Sandcity, part of its surfwear business, which owns 11 O&rsquo;Neill boardwear stores into administration, putting 90 jobs at risk.<br /><br />Blacks also said it had tried and failed to sell the surfwear business.<br /><br />&ldquo;Further restructuring is still required to satisfy the condition to the standstill agreement, which the Company continues to develop with its advisers, KPMG,&rdquo; Blacks said.<br /><br />The group made a loss of &pound;6.8m in the year to 28 February.<br /><br />It operates 256 Millets shops, 116 Blacks Outdoor outlets and 32 Freespirit stores.