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Blacks to shut 89 loss-making stores

Blacks Leisure, the outdoor specialist, is to shut 89 of its loss-making stores and cut jobs at its head office as part of a restructuring.

Blacks described the 89 shops earmarked for closure as a “considerable drag” on the outdoor division, which has traded profitably over the last two years.

It added: “The vast majority of the stores to be closed have not traded profitably for many years.”

It also warned that 50 roles at its Northampton head office were likely to go.

Blacks is under increasing financial pressure and admitted that further restructuring is still required to satisfy banking terms.

The company did not disclose how many jobs will be affected by the store closure plan, which is still subject to employee consultation.

Blacks agreed a £40m lending facility with Lloyds Banking Group in July but “recent, unexpected difficult trading” has meant it is likely to breach a covenant at the end of September. It has until the end of October to submit an acceptable turnaround plan to the bank.

As part of the restructuring, Blacks last week called in administrators to its 11 O’Neill boardwear stores, putting 90 jobs at risk.

Management said there was “no reasonable prospect” of restoring loss-making Sandcity - the subsidiary which owns the stores - to profit. Sandcity fell into administration last week.

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