Written on the 20 January 2017 by Business News Australia


BLK Sport has been purchased from receivers McGrathNicol by a private consortium composed of a TimorLeste-based oil company and Fiji investors in a deal that keeps founder Tyron Brant (pictured) as CEO and allows most of the company's staff to retain their jobs.

The consortium, led by Esperança Timor Oan (ETO), acquired the BLK business, brand and associated sub-brands from World Rugby Specialists (WRS) for an undisclosed sum.

ETO Executive Director Nilton Gusmão dos Santos says the acquisition of the Gold Coast-based business was in line with ETO's plans to expand beyond the energy sector.

It also enables the BLK brands to be separated from the financial troubles of WRS, which was placed into administration in November last year.

BLK was founded by Tyron Brant (pictured) and his father Kim on the Gold Coast as Kooga, but changed its name in 2011 and moved manufacturing to Fiji in 2012.

It was placed under voluntary administration in November last year after Cyclone Winston put the business out of action for nine weeks in February that year. 

The BLK business will be housed within a new company, BLK International. BLK International will retain the existing BLK business executive team and senior management, including Brant, who has been chief executive of BLK since 2014.

BLK International will also retain the services of current BLK business chief financial officer Michael Robinson, chief operating officer Shannon Moore and most of the workforce.

"BLK will continue under new ownership," says Brant, who is the director of WRC. "BLK International expects to maintain a high level of customer service and market leading innovation and intends to better deliver product and experience for BLK's loyal customers."

Speaking to Business News Australia, Brant says it has been a tough two months on the staff in Australia and in Fiji.

"One of the most important things for me is that we can continue our work on BLK, which is a globally recognised brand and is achieving fantastic things all over the world, and there is an opportunity to push forward, not only in Australia, but globally; and I am proud that we have been able to retain hundreds of jobs in Fiji and around the world. I am looking to double that moving forward."

The major loss to the BLK business had been its supply contracts to four AFL teams and the Gold Coast Titans in the NRL.

"Despite the clubs terminating their arrangements with BLK, BLK International is confident that it will be able to replace that lost business over the medium term once it has rebuilt confidence in the brand," says Brant.

Brant told Business says that the destruction caused by Cyclone Winston was tough to come back from.

"It was hard, near on impossible, to come back from the impact of the cyclone. We spent a fair bit of money building infrastructure in Fiji and Cyclone Winston closed us down for nine weeks, which had a significant impact on revenue," says Brant.

"We were just chasing our tail; from there we weren't able to catch up on our cash flow, or our service and delivery."

BLK Sport manufactures and supplies apparel for sporting clubs and fans worldwide, including player kits for top-tier rugby union, rugby league, soccer and netball franchises.

The business is one of Australia's dominant apparel suppliers to grassroots sport, with distributors in 14 countries and more than 10,000 teams globally wearing BLK.

Brant says that despite WRS being placed into administration, the BLK business had retained its grassroots sport customer base, as well as jersey supply contracts with all four of its Australian and South African Super Rugby clubs, UK's Saracens and Ospreys rugby clubs, Ireland's Connacht Rugby, Stade Toulousain in France, Ricoh Black Rams in Japan and Canterbury in New Zealand.

The BLK business also continues to supply the Newcastle Jets in the Hyundai A-League and New Zealand's national netball team, the Silver Ferns.

Author: Business News Australia





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