Mike Ashley seeks to oust Blacks chairman

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The Independent Online

Mike Ashley , the founder of Sports Direct, has stepped up his bitter campaign against the board of the outdoor retail group Blacks Leisure by demanding that its chairman, David Bernstein, quits.

In this fraught atmosphere, Julia Reynolds, right, the former head of the online lingerie retailer Figleaves, takes up her role as chief executive of Blacks today. She faces a number of challenges, not least dealing with the recalcitrant Mr Ashley, turning around the loss-making group and possibly launching a cash call to ease its financial woes.

It emerged over the weekend that Mr Ashley may seek an extraordinary general meeting to oust Mr Bernstein, who has been the chairman of Blacks since 2001.

Sports Direct, which owns a 21 per cent stake in Blacks, voted against the reappointment of Mr Bernstein at its annual meeting last week. Bob Mellors, the finance director of Sports Direct, then requested a meeting between Mr Ashley and Mr Bernstein on Thursday evening, but the Blacks' chair did not attend after he failed to receive an agenda in advance.

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