Millets and Blacks Stores Bought

The UK's 290 Millets and Blacks outdoor clothes stores have been bought for £20m, but some staff working for their parent company - based in Northampton - are still expected to be made redundant.

Blacks Leisure announced on Friday 6 January 2012 that they were going to go into administration.

The Millets and Blacks stores have been snapped up by sportswear firm JD Sports Fashion, who have also bought the bulk of the rest of the business.

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

Blacks appointed KPMG as administrator earlier as it admitted it has failed to find an outright buyer after putting itself up for sale following dire trading.

More than 3,500 staff work for the Northampton-based company.  Those employees are expected to keep their jobs for the time being, but it's thought redundancies are inevitable.

Blacks' new owner say they will evaluate the performance of each store before they decide how many to close. The likely fate of Blacks' Northampton-based head office and warehouse is unclear.

JD executive chairman Peter Cowgill said he hopes to restore Blacks to its profitable, market-leading position as it rejuvenates the offer, closes loss-making stores and makes cost savings.

The deal means that the stores, the stock, and the brands including Eurohike and Peter Storm will be transferred to JD Sports but its debts of more than £30 million will be scrapped.

The process of selling businesses through pre-pack administrations is controversial because creditors do not have the opportunity to vote against the proposed asset sale. Shares in the company were suspended in the first week of January.

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