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Jobs axed in Blacks merger

Blacks Leisure is to cut 50 jobs at its subsidiary Sandcity, after the group decided to merge the operations of its Freespirit chain and O’Neill brand.

The group will close its Sandcity head office in Washington, Tyne & Wear, which distributes boardwear brand O’Neill in the UK, and merge it with the group’s Freespirit operation in Northampton.

The move follows the launch of a review of the group’s boardwear operations and the suspension of the division’s managing director Darren Spurling in March, pending an investigation into accounting discrepancies, which is ongoing.

The merger will mean the loss of 50 jobs at Sandcity’s Washington site, but 14 new roles will be created in Northampton. The firm said it would help find new jobs for workers affected by the closure of the 147,000sq ft warehouse and offices, which will be sold. The integration is expected to be completed by June.

Blacks Leisure chief executive Neil Gillis said: “Our recovery plan identified that reducing the cost base and improving operational efficiencies were key to the future of the business.

“The decision to merge the Sandcity and Freespirit operations will eliminate duplication of functions within the boardwear businesses and deliver significant cost savings. While the job losses are regrettable, it is essential to help restore levels of performance.”

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