Takeovers offer a lifeline to retailers

Bicester town centre.Sheep Street.'120107M-C134
Bicester town centre.Sheep Street.'120107M-C134

JOBS at Bicester’s Millets outdoor store could be saved after a buyer stepped in to buy the chain on Monday.

National retailer JD Sport Fashion has offered £20million for most of the 300 Blacks and Millets outdoor stores, and is expected to keep many of the group’s 3,500 staff.

A staff member at the Millets store in Crown Walk said she did not yet know whether jobs would be retained.

The Northampton-based Blacks chain warned of a troubled future before the crucial Christmas shopping period.

In November, Blacks Leisure warned conditions had worsened and full-year profits were likely to be lower than expected.

The company had reported a seven per cent decline in sales in its half-year results.

Elsewhere in Bicester, the former D2 Jeans store in Sheep Street has been taken over by clothing giant Blue Inc after the chain went into administration after Christmas.

Blue Inc has reportedly stepped in to save 20 of the 28 D2 Jeans stores around the country.

A survey conducted last year by Bicester and District Chamber of Commerce revealed the proportion of empty shop units in Bicester fell from 12 per cent to around eight per cent in 2011.

Chamber of commerce chairman Ben Jackson said: “A speedy resolution is always good. The last thing you want is for it to be hanging over the heads of workers.

“If they both stay open, it reflects businesses seeing Bicester as a good place to be.”