Blacks heads into administration

BLACKS Leisure, the outdoor clothing and equipment retailer, has confirmed that it is going into administration.

The group, which own Blacks and Millets, and has stores in the Forum and West Street, Horsham, is set to appoint KPMG to run administration.

The retailer will go into a formal insolvency process but emerge under new ownership following a pre-arranged asset sale.

In a statement this morning, Blacks said: “On December 23 2011, the company announced that a number of parties had submitted indicative offers to acquire the whole or substantially all of the trade, assets and brands of the group.

“Since that date, the company and its advisers have continued to hold discussions with a number of selected parties who have now submitted their final offers, which include offers to acquire substantially all of the trade, assets and brands of the group.”

The group say the process to commence the appointment of administration will begin ‘shortly’.

Horsham shop workers are facing an uncertain new year as question marks hang over the future of a number of retailers.

The difficulties facing some national High Street names are in contrast to the experience of a string of Horsham retailers who have reported excellent Christmas trading.

In a survey by the County Times, many said they had seen strong trading, and one commented: “This Christmas has been one of the best.’’

A full report on how the shops fared appears on p28 of this week’s County Times.

There is also good news as the former British Bookshops in West Street is this week being fitted out as C&H fabrics.

However a number workers in the town are facing an uncertain future as national chains bid to resolve business difficulties.

Toy shop and novelty goods retailer Hawkin’s Bazaar, with an outlet in Swan Walk, went into administration on Friday December 30.

Meanwhile, national media have reported concerns over the future of Past Times, with a shop in Swan Walk and Barratts, also in Swan Walk.

Peter Saville, Fraser Gray and Anne O’Keefe, of Corporate Advisory and Restructuring specialists Zolfo Cooper, were appointed joint administrators of Tobar Group Holdings Ltd with its subsidiaries - The Group - which ran Hawkin’s Bazaar.

Based in Worlingham, Suffolk, The Group operates as a retailer and wholesaler of toys and gifts via a network of 65 permanent retail stores, websites and direct selling, employing some 380 permanent staff nationally.

Commenting on the appointment, joint administrator Peter Saville said: “In common with many retailers The Group has experienced exceptionally challenging trading conditions of late. At this stage we intend to continue to trade the component parts of The Group whilst we seek a buyer for all or parts of its operations.

“We will be working closely with all relevant stakeholders to ensure we identify the best possible outcomes regarding preservation of jobs, the value of the business and returns to creditors. As this work continues we will seek to make further announcements as appropriate.”

Deloitte, joint administrators of the Barratts Priceless Group, which looks after the shoe shop, announced on Friday December 30 that they had been unsuccessful in finding a buyer of the concession business.

This will result in redundancies of Barratts Priceless staff across units in the UK and the Republic of Ireland.

Daniel Butters, joint administrator and partner in Deloitte’s restructuring services practice, said: “Following a marketing of the Barratts Priceless businesses it is clear that a satisfactory sale of the concession to a new party will not be achieved.

“Accordingly, the joint administrators have regretfully had to make approximately 1,610 Barratts Priceless Group full and part time employees working in the various concessions redundant.”

Discussions with the various concessionaires are underway to see how many of the affected people they could either employ or absorb into their existing businesses.