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UPDATE: Sports Direct Hits Out At Blacks' Suppliers

Date : 01/10/2012 @ 5:39AM
Source : Dow Jones News
Stock : Sportsdirect (SPD)
Quote : 789.5  -7.5 (-0.94%) @ 11:35AM
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UPDATE: Sports Direct Hits Out At Blacks' Suppliers

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Sports Direct International PLC (SPD.LN), which failed in its bid to buy the assets of the troubled outdoor retailer Blacks Leisure at an auction last week, has launched an attack on Blacks' suppliers, claiming that it could have successfully acquired the business had it had clearer information from suppliers about their intentions after a sale.

On Monday, rival JD Sports Fashion PLC (JD.LN) bought the assets of Blacks for GBP20 million via a so-called "pre-pack administration". The sale was handled by KPMG.

There were two other bidders, including U.K. entrepreneur Peter Jones -- known for his role in the Dragons' Den program -- and another unidentified party.

In a statement Tuesday, Sports Direct, which owns 21% of Blacks, pointed the finger at suppliers, singling out The North Face, owned by U.S.-based VF Corp. (VFC), for not responding to requests for information about their intentions.

"Given supplier relationship issues that remain, such as The North Face who were not prepared to respond to our approaches, we could not justify a higher price for the Blacks business," Sports Direct said in a statement. VF Corp., based in North Carolina, couldn't immediately be reached for comment Tuesday.

In a separate statement, Sports Direct called on the U.K. antitrust bodies the Competition Commission and the Office of Fair Trading to look at the outdoor retail and sports markets but declined to elaborate further.

Blacks operates 208 stores under the Millets brand and 98 Blacks Outdoor stores. It also owns clothing and outdoor equipment brands Peter Storm, Freespirit and Technicals.

Sports Direct, owned by Newcastle United owner Mike Ashley, tabled a 62 pence a share offer for Blacks in 2010, which Blacks rejected as "inadequate." The offer at the time valued Blacks at roughly GBP26.4 million.

In a statement Tuesday, Sports Direct said that the value of its equity in Blacks over the past two years has fallen by GBP52.6 million.

-By Jessica Hodgson, Dow Jones Newswires; +44 207 842 9373; jessica.hodgson@dowjones.com

(Marietta Cauchi and Jana Weigand in London also contributed to this article)



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