Blacks Leisure will focus on refreshing its portfolio after its company voluntary arrangement (CVA) was passed by landlords, shoring up its future.
The outdoor specialist needed 75% of creditors to pass the proposal and it was nodded through by 98%.
Blacks chief executive Neil Gillis said: “Now the restructure is completed we are getting back to the day job of running the business.”
He said a priority now was to “return to the turnaround programme we started 18 months ago”.
Gillis said: “25% of stores have not had investment for the past 10 years. That has to be the priority. We did not have the capital expenditure head room to do that before.”
He defended its decision to go through a CVA process and said the worst thing to happen after all the months of turmoil would have been an administration. “I can understand the feelings landlords have. No one wants to do a CVA,” he said. “They are wrong to be concerned that it will set a precedent.”
As long as no challenge is made to the CVA it will become effective on or around December 23.
The group now has 314 stores and will exit the leases of 89. Landlords of the unoccupied properties will receive compensation between them of £7.25m. Blacks has agreed monthly rents for 18 months for the rest of its portfolio.
Singer analyst Matthew McEachran said: “The creation of a sound platform from a financing and liability perspective should now allow the management team to commence the task of turning around the core outdoor division, without the distraction of a loss-making subsidiary and burden of a long tail of loss-making stores.”
Blacks’ CVA: the facts
- Stores closed: 89
- Stores left after restructure: 314 (Blacks, 91 stores; Millets, 208; Freespirit, 15)
- Landlords affected: 101
- Compensation pot for landlords: £7.25m
- Jobs saved: 4,300
- New banking facilities from Bank of Scotland (subject to CVA becoming effective): £4.25m
- Warrants issued for bank’s support of the business: 5% of company’s existing share capital