Five clothing stores to close in region

FIVE branches of the outdoor clothing chains Blacks and Millets in Suffolk and north Essex are to close, it was confirmed today.

Duncan Brodie

FIVE branches of the outdoor clothing chains Blacks and Millets in Suffolk and north Essex are to close, it was confirmed today.

Parent group Blacks Leisure said last month that it planned to axe 89 loss-making stores under a restructuring required as a condition of continued support from its bankers.

Not details of the closure were given at the time, but today a spokesman for the group confirmed that Millets stores would be closing in Ipswich, Felixstowe, Colchester and Braintree, with a branch of Blacks also to be closed in Colchester.

The spokesman said he was unable to confirm how many jobs were at risk, as consultations with staff were still continuing, but - based on forecasts of up to 450 job losses as a result of the full store closure programme - the number is likely to be between 20 and 30.

Both Millets and Blacks will continue to be represented in Ipswich, where the Millets branch in Tacket Street is to close while that in Carr Street will be retained, alongside the Blacks branch in Tavern Street.

Most Read

The two brands will also both retain a presence in Colchester, where the Millets branch in Short Wyre Street and the Blacks store in the High Street are to close while Millets in the High Street and Blacks in St John's Walk will be retained.

Besides the stores in Hamilton Road, Felixstowe, and High Street, Braintree, other branches of Millets are also to close in Norwich and Great Yarmouth.

Blacks, which is also cutting 50 jobs at its Northampton head office, said at the time of last month's announcement that the 89 shops due to close were a “considerable drag” on the outdoor business.

It said the business had traded profitably overall for the last two years but the “vast majority” of stores identified for closure had been loss-making “for many years”.

There are currently 256 Millets shops and 116 Blacks Outdoor outlets across the country.

News of the closures came a week after the group called in administrators at its 11 O'Neill boardwear stores, putting 90 jobs at risk.

The group has also warned that further restructuring is still required to satisfy the arrangement with its bankers, and it is continuing to work on this with its advisers, KPMG.

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter