Blacks Leisure is expected to have its Company Voluntary Arrangement passed by landlords today, potentially securing the future of the outdoor specialist.
The move would save 290 stores and 4,000 jobs and would mean the continued support of its lender the Lloyds Banking Group as part of a wider agreed restructure programme.
Both KPMG, who is handling the restructure and the British Property Foundation (BPF) are confident that at least 75% of creditors will pass the CVA proposal, the minimum threshold needed for it to go through.
BPF chief executive Liz Peace said: “I think in the end the CVA will be considered the lesser of two evils.”
She added: “With the average existing retail lease lasting over 12 years, Blackswould walk away from many hundreds of years’ worth of rent if the CVA is passed. This hit will be taken solely by the landlords - many of whom are owned by the public and its pension funds.”
The BPF is concerned that in some cases landlords are losing out following a company restructure, for the company to then go on to open more stores again. It highlighted Clinton Cards as an example which made £13.5m profit from buying back profitable Birthdays stores after putting the fascia into administration.
If the Blacks CVA is passed the retailer will pay six months rent on the closed stores and be liable for rates until the units are re-let or until leases expire.
Blacks Leisure was advised by property firm Jones Lang LaSalle.