JD Sports in �20m deal for Blacks and Millets stores

SPORTWEAR retailer JD Sports Fashion has bought all of Blacks Leisure’s 302 stores out of administration in a deal valued at �20million.

JD Sports bought the stores, which trade under the Blacks and Millets names, and the bulk of the rest of the business in a “pre-pack” deal immediately after Blacks Leisure was put into administration.

Blacks appointed KPMG as administrator following its earlier admission that it had failed to find an outright buyer after putting itself up for sale following a run of dire trading.

JD Sports, whose largest shareholder is Berghaus owner Pentland Capital, beat Dragons’ Den star Peter Jones, rival Sports Direct, which is owned by Newcastle United FC owner Mike Ashley, and outdoor retailer Trespass in the battle to land the stores.

Richard Fleming, one of the joint administrators from KPMG, said that no redundancies had been made at the the stores by the administrators, with all 3,500 staff being covered by the deal with JD Sports.

“Today’s sale allows the continued trading of all the shops,” he said. “A sale via ‘pre-pack’ administration was required to rescue as much of the business as possible.

“Blacks has struggled, in tough economic conditions, to generate enough cash to service its high overhead costs. However, Blacks has a strong brand and accordingly generated a huge amount of buyer interest from some of the best known entrepreneurs and competitors in the market. Today’s announcement draws a line in the sand and allows the business to put its best foot forward.”

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There are both Blacks and Millets branches in Ipswich, Colchester and Chelmsford plus further Millets outlets in Sudbury, Lowestoft and Saffron Walden and a Blacks in Bury St Edmunds.

David McCorquodale, corporate finance partner at KPMG, who led the sales process, added: “We spoke to around 50 interested parties initially, with 10 submitting first round bids in December and 4 placing offers at the second and final bidding stage on Friday. The level of buyer interest in such a difficult economic environment – particularly for the retail community – is a testament to the strength of the Blacks brand as well as to the new management team who have driven significant changes in the business in a very short time.”