Published: 13/10/2007 00:00 - Updated: 28/11/2011 13:29

Mystery offers for Nevisport

The Nevisport shop in Fort William which has a question mark hanging over its future.
The Nevisport shop in Fort William which has a question mark hanging over its future.

LIQUIDATORS of troubled outdoor clothing specialist Nevisport are hopeful of saving the company after receiving two offers to buy what is left of the Fort William-based business. As the LN went to press, talks were continuing between KPMG, the joint provisional liquidators, and agents of two companies who were not named with hopes of a favourable outcome. KPMG were appointed after a petition to the Court of Session last Friday. It was announced on Monday that Nevisport, founded in 1970, had gone into liquidation months after the company had announced a third successive year of losses. Five of the company's 12 stores closed last week leaving shops remaining in Fort William, Aonach Mor, Aviemore, Edinburgh, Middlesburgh and York. Nevisport changed hands almost three years ago when founders Ian Sutherland and Ian Sykes sold it to a three-strong management team led by Bruce Cameron, from Banavie. Uncertainty has surrounded the firm in recent weeks after it was reported in the national media that retailer Sports Direct, run by billionaire Mike Ashley, had taken over the business. However, KPMG say they have "nothing legal" to suggest Sports Direct involvement with Nevisport. Reports now suggest Mr Ashley's company, which also owns a 30 per cent stake in Blacks Leisure, is one of the two parties currently in negotiation with the liquidators. All press calls to Sports Direct were diverted straight to a voicemail service. Blair Nimmo, joint provisional liquidator and head of restructuring at KPMG, said: "By the set closing date on Monday we did receive notice from two companies which expressed an interest in Nevisport Ltd. "We are currently evaluating these approaches, but to have received two expressions of interest is a positive step forward and we are hopeful that we can preserve the business as a going concern. "All staff members currently employed by Nevisport will continue to be paid while KPMG acts as provisional liquidator." Yesterday, Ian Sykes, co-founder of Nevisport in 1970, said the situation was "tragic". "Ian Sutherland and I sold the company three years ago and all we really knew was that it was going through a difficult time. It was a poor ski season last year and this summer has not been good either. "I'm really sad about this. It's very upsetting, all the confusion and uncertainty. For more than 35 years Nevisport has been a big part of Fort William. I hope that whoever takes it over will do everything they can to make it a success." Mr Sykes said he belived the Fort William town centre store was unlikely to close. In his view Sports Direct "would not be good news" for the town. He added: "I really feel for the staff but I know that the directors will be doing everything they can to get things sorted out. I know that everything possible is being done behind the scenes to make sure the staff get their wages. It's all in the hands of the receivers now." About 25 people are employed by Nevisport in Fort William 91 in the UK in total. The iconic store at the east end of Fort William High Street includes the outdoor clothing, ski-ing and camping store, a gift shop, bar and restaurant. A smaller store is also located at the Nevis Range ski resort at Aonach Mor. The company's head office and mail order facilities are based on the Ben Nevis Estate A source close to some members of the Fort William staff contacted the LN just prior to the weekend announcement. Not wishing to be named, the source said: "There is a lot of unhappiness at the way things are being handled. Many are unsure about what is happening. Has there been a buyout is Sports Direct going to be interested in the anything other than sports goods? "Information is not being passed to the staff and that is causing a great deal of worry. We're talking people with young families. Nevisport is a real institution in Fort William and it is not right for staff to be treated unfairly." Charlotte Wright, area director at HIE Lochaber, said: "The announcement is a shattering blow for Lochaber. This news comes after a long period in which a lot of work has been done to increase Lochaber's potential to create jobs in the outdoor economy. "I am saddened by the loss of a company that has been synonymous with Lochaber. We will work with the company to make sure everything possible is done to protect jobs where we can, as well as helping individuals who may be faced with redundancy." s.taylor@lochaber-news.co.uk

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