Blow to Norwich, King’s Lynn and Lowestoft Blacks Leisure shops

Blacks Leisure's hopes of staving off collapse were dealt a blow today when its biggest shareholder Sports Direct withdrew its interest in buying the UK's biggest outdoor retailer.

The stricken firm, which owns stores a Blacks and Millets store in Norwich and Millets outlets in King's Lynn and Lowestoft has 98 Blacks and 208 Millets stores nationally.

The firm put itself up for sale earlier this month as it struggles under a �36m debt pile amid dire trading.

Newcastle United owner Mike Ashley's Sports Direct chain, which owns 22.5pc of Blacks, had said it was among the interested parties but today ruled itself out.