Landlords are ready to rescue Black's Leisure

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Landlords appear ready to back a deal that will save the camping and outdoor retailer Black's Leisure from administration. Creditors are meeting today to thrash out a company voluntary agreement which will restructure the beleaguered chain's debts.

The British Property Federation (BPF) says most landlords are prepared to back the move which will require 75 per cent of creditors to vote in favour. If a deal is reached, 101 stores are likely to close, about a quarter of the total, but 5,000 staff jobs could be saved.

Tomorrow is the anniversary of Woolworths going into administration, so the rescue of another major retailer would come as a relief to many in the industry. But the landlords will have to take a financial hit to approve the deal. Liz Peace, the chief executive of the BPF, said that landlords were showing flexibility and allowing companies to avoid administration. Yet she still argued for changes to the CVA system.

She added: "The property industry has come a long way and is now more flexible than ever. As we have seen, landlords will do what they can to work with their tenants but there comes a point where people will demand controls and a certain level of fairness about how insolvency regulations are written and enforced."

In return for backing the CVA, landlords will be required to give up lucrative leases. In return for this, they will get just six months' rent and payments to cover empty rates. The average length of an existing lease at the company is more than 12 years.

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