Snow + Rock ripe target as MBO is knocked back

The£25 million management buy-out of adventure sports retailer Snow + Rock has collapsed, opening the door to potential bidders including Blacks Leisure.

An MBO offer, backed by Barclays Private Equity, was put on the table earlier this year by a team led by marketing director Steve Hazel, managing director Dion Taylor and retail director Mike Barnett.

However, the deal did not meet the expectations of majority shareholder and founder Mike Browne. Hazel and Barnett have left the business, while Taylor has remained in a different remit.

A well-informed source claimed difficult trading over Christmas, coupled with the MBO team's expansion plans had also made a sale difficult.

'There was a lot of private equity interest,' he said. 'It fell through because they had an aggressive plan, which they had to raise a lot of credit for.'

News of the collapsed MBO may put Snow + Rock back in play. Blacks is understood to have expressed an interest in the 10-strong chain prior to the management offer.

'They would have been prepared to buy the business at a more modest price. Perhaps if the price came south of£20 million there will be more interest,' said the source.

Alistair Gosling, chief executive of sports brand Extreme, had also been in talks to buy Snow + Rock. He said: 'It was way over-valued. At the right price, I'm still interested.'

No comment was available from Snow + Rock, which posted a profit of£1 million in 2003, on sales of£28 million.