British sports and leisurewear retailer John David Sports Plc today said it was paying £53.2 million for the sports and fashion division, including retail outlets First Sport, Active Venture and Pure Woman, of rival firm Blacks Leisure Group Plc.

JD Sports said its directors believed the deal would enhance the company's earnings, increase its range of products and widen its presence across the UK. JD Sports chairman John Wardle also said the combined group would generate significant economies from purchasing, warehousing, distribution and marketing.

For Blacks, the deal provides an opportunity to leave an "increasingly competitive sports retail market" and focus on its outdoor retail businesses, Millets and Black Outdoors, and boardwear units O'Neill and Free Spirit.

Blacks also announced its chief executive Simon Bentley was being replaced by Roy Crosland, managing director of Blacks' outdoor division.