UK law firm quartet line up on Blacks and La Senza administrations

Addleshaw Goddard, Travers Smith, Linklaters and SJ Berwin have all taken roles on the pre-pack administrations of Blacks Leisure and lingerie chain La Senza, in the latest retail collapses to hit the high street.

Travers took the lead role for Blacks after KPMG was appointed as administrator on Monday (9 January). The firm’s team was led by head of corporate finance Spencer Summerfield and corporate recovery chief Jeremy Walsh.

The majority of Blacks’ assets have been sold to JD Sports in a deal reportedly worth £20m, including all 302 stores operating under the Blacks and Millets outdoor retail brands. The company employs around 3,500 people.

Addleshaws acted for JD Sports with a team led by business support and restructuring group head John Joyce and insolvency partner Ged Barnes.

The rescue deal comes after Blacks closed 89 stores in late 2009 in a bid to stave off creditors, with a company voluntary arrangement following two months later.

Travers’ Summerfield, who negotiated the 2009 CVA with landlords, said: “We’ve been working with Blacks on financing for a number of years. Ultimately it needed restructuring, and this was the only way of taking the company forward.”

Addleshaws’ Joyce added: “The UK’s retail market is having a tough time and we’re delighted that [the] deal will salvage and secure a promising future for Blacks, so it can remain a prominent figure on our high street.”

Meanwhile, this week has also seen KPMG brought in to head up the pre-pack administration of underwear chain La Senza, with SJ Berwin appointed to act for La Senza and Linklaters advising the buyer, Arabian retail group Alshaya.

The SJ Berwin team was led by corporate finance head Steven Davis and reconstruction and insolvency partner Mike Woollard.

Linklaters’ Abu Dhabi-based partner Nick Garland and London restructuring partner David Ereira led the magic circle firm’s team acting for Alshaya, which purchased 60 of La Senza’s UK stores. A further 84 shops and 18 concessions will cease trading, resulting in around 1,300 job losses.

In addition, Limited Brands, the US retail group which owns the rights to the La Senza lingerie brand, was represented by Mishcon de Reya, with corporate partners Kevin McCarthy and Andrew Rimmington heading up the firm’s team.

Last year saw a spate of high street restructurings and administrations, including Habitat, Thorntons and Jane Norman, with law firms including DLA Piper, Shoosmiths and Salans taking associated roles.

For more, see: Blacks and La Senza: aggression vs seduction?