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Millets owner Blacks up for sale

THE UK's biggest outdoor retailer, Blacks Leisure, put itself up for sale today in a last-ditch effort to save the loss-making business from collapse.

Blacks, which owns 98 Blacks outlets and 208 Millets stores, warned that any sale of the company or its brands, which also include Peter Storm and Eurohike, was unlikely to offer value to shareholders as its £36m debt far exceeds its market value of £3.2m.

The group, which made a £16m loss in the first half of the year and recently warned that its full-year performance would be worse than expected, has been hit by low consumer confidence and squeezed household budgets.

The directors had hoped to secure funding for a turnaround of the business, which would have included a revamp of its stores, but its shareholders, which include Newcastle United owner Mike Ashley's Sports Direct, failed to put up the cash required.