Blacks sweats over BDO findings

Blacks Leisure
is subject to searching questions after disclosing a £2m accounting failure.

Investigators from auditors
BDO Stoy Hayward are
continuing to examine the group after the problems emerged in subsidiary

CFO Keith Fleming became interim CEO of the company after a profits collapse
last year but his position is in jeopardy after the massive black hole came to
light. He is yet to receive the public backing of current CEO Neil Gillis who is
already on the warpath after suspending one senior manager in the wake of the

The problems arose in Blacks’ Sandcity subsidiary, which operates the
O’Neill’s surfwear brand. Accounting failures spread across ‘at least the two
financial years ending February 2008’, mean that that Sandcity’s performance has
been overstated by £2m, Blacks said.

The black hole was only exposed because the company was conducting a
feasibility study on merging two of its divisions. BDO were then brought in to
examine the nature and scale of the accounting flaws and found that the
performance of Sandcity had been artificially boosted by £2m.

Sandcity’s problems have had other damaging knock on-effects. Blacks profits
for the financial years to February 2008/09 will be £1m lower than expected. Its
budgets for the new financial year have also been knocked off kilter and will
now have to be cut by £1m.

The problems will cap off a turbulent period for Fleming. He took over as
interim chief executive after former CEO Russell Hardy was booted out when
profits nosedived from a forecasted £21m to £100,000 last year.

The irregularities are so serious that the company has stopped short of
guaranteeing the group’s long-term prospects.

‘The recovery plan for the group is unaffected by these developments and the
board remain convinced that the medium-term prospects for
Blacks Leisure
remain healthy.’
‘[BDO’s] investigations are continuing,’ the company added.

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