Blacks: Retail's First Christmas Casualty

Article excerpt

Byline: Rupert Steiner

BLACKS has become the first festive casualty of the High Street, hoisting the 'For Sale' sign after admitting it has failed to secure vital new funds.

The camping products retailer announced plans to pack up its rucksack as it warned investors that the value of their shares could be worthless in any deal.

Blacks, which has seen its shares tank 90pc over the year, is one of a raft of troubled retailers fighting for survival in the run up to the crucial Christmas trading period as hard-up consumers rein in spending on all but the most essential of items.

Last month the company posted another profits warning, but said it was having 'constructive' talks with its banks.

Those discussions took a turn for the worse.

Peter Williams, who joined as chairman in August, approached shareholders about raising more cash, but said: 'The directors do not believe that the group will be able to complete a fundraising which would provide for the equity requirements of the group.

'The directors now wish to invite offers to support further investment in the group, which is most likely to involve a sale of the Company or sale of one or more of the Group's brands.'

Blacks - which sells walking boots, camping equipment and ski jackets from 306 Blacks Out-door and Millets stores employing 3,500 staff - has been dogged with problems for years, and has faced with fierce competition from cheaper online rivals and the supermarkets. …