Blacks Leisure chairman David Bernstein has resigned.

In a statement this morning, Blacks said that despite having received over 78% of proxy votes in favour of his reappointment at the AGM on July 27, Bernstein decided that, “whilst this would normally be sufficient, the challenges faced by the business in such a difficult trading environment require a unified shareholder base supporting the strategy developed by the board”.

The move comes just days after Mike Ashley, the boss of Blacks’ largest shareholder Sports Direct, urged him to step down.

Blacks’ nomination committee will now start a process to identify and appoint a new chairman.

Bernstein joined the board in 1995 and was appointed chairman in 2001. Blacks said: “During his time with the company, David has made a considerable contribution to the business and the board would like to take this opportunity to express their gratitude and to wish him well for the future.”