Bernstein is believed to have told Wright that he favours appointing finance director and acting chief executive Keith Fleming to the position permanently. However, Principle is thought to be firmly opposed to Fleming’s appointment and is keen to tap Wright about his interest separately.
Principle could move to overrule Bernstein and force Wright’s appointment if it could garner enough shareholder support. Sports Direct, which holds almost 30% of Blacks shares, and Intrinsic Value, which has about 7%, is expected to support Principle in any action it proposes.
Wright, who left the chief executive role at menswear business SRG earlier this year, told Drapers: “I have met with Bernstein, but have not had any confirmed feedback from him.” He declined to comment further.
Wright was sales director at Blacks’ Millets chain for five years in the early 1980s, when he grew the business from 70 stores to 200. His stint at Moss Bros also gave him experience of running a business in difficulty against a backdrop of shareholder unrest.
Meanwhile, talk that Blacks Leisure was considering selling its O’Neill licence gathered pace this week.
It is understood the Blacks board believes that surfwear brand O’Neill has fallen too far behind rivals Fat Face, Billabong and Howies. However, Principle is thought to be against a sale of the licence.