David Bernstein has resigned from his position as Chairman and Director of outdoor equipment and apparel retail group Blacks Leisure with immediate effect, it was announced today.
At Blacks AGM on July 27th 2011 Bernstein was re-appointed as Chairman by a majority of 78 per cent but he has now indicated that with current trading so difficult the leader of the company needs the full backing of its shareholders in order to steer the business back to growth.
In its last quarter period ending July 9th like-for-like sales had declined 9.7 per cent year-on-year following a prolonged pattern of disappointing trading and in February of this year the group’s CEO Neil Gillis also announced he was to leave his position.
Bernstein’s resignation follows a public spat with Sports Direct’s owner Mike Ashley, who owns 21 per cent of shares in the company, in which the rival retail boss called for the long serving Chairman to stand down.
A statement released by Blacks this morning 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.
“The Nomination Committee will now commence a process to identify and appoint a new Chairman.”
Having joined the board of Blacks in 1995, Bernstein has now been its chairman for over a decade and will prove difficult to replace.
The row between Ashley and Bernstein came to a head last week as new CEO Julia Reynolds had her first day in charge, with the billionaire founder of Sports Direct claiming the Chairman had failed to meet him to discuss the business.
A spokesman for Blacks told The Daily Telegraph last week: “David was prepared to meet them but he wanted some clarity given Sports Direct’s aggressive and bullying tactics in the past.”
Blacks has already had to extend its credit facilities due to the need for more capital and rumours have persisted that Ashley with make a bid for the retailer.