The sportswear retailer JD Sports Fashion yesterday acquired the trading assets of Blacks Leisure for £20m out of pre-packaged administration and vowed to return the troubled outdoor specialist to profitability.
JD outbid rivals including Sports Direct to purchase the group behind 290 Blacks and Millets shops from administrators at KPMG. Peter Cowgill, the executive chairman of JD, said: "We believe with the support of JD's operational disciplines and financial strength... we can restore the Blacks business to a profitable market-leading position.''
The deal secures the immediate future of the outdoor group's 3,500 staff. While JD will initially keep open Blacks' warehouse and head office in Northampton, it is likely to eventually close the site and "eliminate" underperforming stores to slash costs. David McCorquodale, the corporate finance partner at KPMG, said 10 suitors submitted first-round bids, with four placing final-round offers on Friday.
JD, which has 625 stores, said the Blacks' purchase would lead to a "minor reduction" in its forecast annual earnings of £73m in 2011-12.