Blacks Leisure Group is facing a backlash from suppliers after it announced tough new terms and called on them to contribute towards its marketing costs.
The outdoor pursuits specialist, which announced last week that it would close 45 loss-making Millets stores and halt its out-of-town expansion for Blacks, has written to most of its suppliers demanding tougher terms. It wants an extra 30 days' credit and a 5% discount to help cover its marketing costs.
One supplier, Mountain Boot Co, has already pulled out of the Blacks chain. It will stop supplying its Scarpa and Deuter brands to Blacks stores. Other labels are expected to meet the retailer in the coming weeks for talks about their future.
A Mountain Boot Co spokesman said its decision to pull out of Blacks was a direct protest at the terms, which have been requested right across the business's outdoorwear and boardsports supply pool.
One branded supplier said: "No one is happy and suppliers are telling Blacks what they think. Everyone is pissed off. They can't start telling people what their trading terms should be, especially for stock that has already been ordered."
Another supplier told Drapers: "We sympathise with any struggling business trying to streamline its cost base, but we have our own terms and conditions. We are talking to them about it, but negotiating is too strong a word."
Blacks Leisure stocks a broad portfolio of brands across its Blacks, Millets and Free Spirit fascias, as well as a raft of own brands. It is understood that the group sat down with some suppliers this week, with more to follow next week, to thrash out details.
The business is undergoing an operational review, and has asked non-executive director and former Marks & Spencer menswear director Don Trangmar to relinquish his role on the board to become a consultant to the product development teams.
KBC Peel Hunt analyst Paul Rossington said: "Blacks' request is pretty much standard practice to support margins, and if you have a lot of smaller suppliers where no single one accounts for a high level of orders, these are the suppliers that tend to have less bargaining power. The closure of 45 loss-making stores in dual locations should benefit profits through a cut in branch costs, but not a commensurate reduction in total sales from that location."
Blacks chief executive Russell Hardy said he was confident the new strategy would improve performance over the next 12 months.