Leading outdoor equipment retailer Blacks Leisure has today confirmed the appointment of a interim Chairman, whilst it searches for a long-term replacement for David Bernstein.
Independent adviser to the business Peter Williams has been made a non-executive director to the board and will take on the chairmanship on a temporary basis.
Williams has extensive retail experience, perhaps most famous for helping to turn department store group Selfridges around during spells as Chief Financial Officer and CEO over 13 years to 2004, and he also represents many multinational companies at director level.
Bernstein stood down as head of the board of directors at Blacks last week following major shareholder in the company and rival retailer Sports Direct voting against him in a re-election vote at the end of July.
An ongoing spat between Bernstein and Sports Direct owner Mike Ashley had seen the latter call for the former to resign, and, despite being supported by 78 per cent of shareholders, the former Chairman decided that he needed to be fully backed if he was to revive the struggling company.
A Blacks statement at the time read: “David has 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.”
Much work is needed to stabilise Blacks which saw a fall in like-for-like trading last quarter of 9.7 per cent year-on-year and has just installed new CEO Julia Reynolds after Neil Gillis’ sudden departure in February.
Blacks will have been attracted to Williams not just by his work at Selfridges but also JJB Sports, where he was an executive director during the retailer’s first company voluntary agreement which helped stave off administration.
Williams holds several executive and non-executive roles at media and design firms, and is Senior Independent Director of e-tail fashion giant Asos.com.