Former Selfridges chief executive Peter Williams has been appointed interim chairman of outdoor goods specialist Blacks Leisure until a permanent replacement is found.

Williams succeeds David Bernstein, who stepped down under pressure from Blacks shareholder and rival, Sports Direct founder Mike Ashley.

Since leaving Selfridges following its sale in 2004, Williams has established a reputation for taking on trouble-shooting roles. He was an executive director of JJB Sports when it was steered through a CVA in 2009 and of music group EMI when it was in difficulties.

Williams joins Blacks as it battles to regain momentum and amid management change. Sales have fallen and the retailer has had to extend its banking facilities.

Williams has been advising Blacks “for a number of months and is therefore familiar with the business and well placed to carry out this role” the retailer said.

Attempts to turn around Blacks are being led by Julia Reynolds, who started as chief executive at the beginning of August.