Blacks Leisure hires interim chairman to help steady ship

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The Independent Online

Blacks Leisure, the embattled outdoor retail specialist, has hired an interim chairman to help turn around its fortunes ahead of a refinancing.

Peter Williams replaces David Bernstein, who had been the non-executive chairman of loss-making Blacks for 10 years and quit last week after pressure to resign from Sports Direct, which has a 21.3 per cent stake in the group.

Mr Williams has been advising Blacks for about six months on the "financing of the business" and hisappointment as temporary chairman comes just a week after Julia Reynolds, the former head of the online lingerie retailer Figleaves, started as chiefexecutive. Mr Williams reaffirmed that Blacks plans to refinance to help turnaround its performance, but declined to provide a timeframe.

He said: "At some point, we will need to refinance: the environment in many of the stores is not that great and they will need to spend some money on it. We need to steady the ship."

Mr Williams spent 13 year at Selfridges, including as chief executive, up until 2004 but in recent years he has taken troubleshooting roles at JJB Sports and the music group EMI.