Updated: Tuesday, 7th April 2020 @ 8:10am

Wigan-based JJB Sports calls in administrators resulting in over 100 job losses in Greater Manchester

Wigan-based JJB Sports calls in administrators resulting in over 100 job losses in Greater Manchester

By Steven Oldham

JJB Sports stores across Greater Manchester have closed their doors for the final time today after the struggling company failed to find a new buyer.

Stores in Bolton, Wigan, Stockport and two in central Manchester have closed permanently, resulting in 122 job losses.

The Wigan-founded company's shop in Rochdale is one of just 20 of 153 branches to be saved by former rivals Sports Direct, who have purchased the stores along with the rights to the JJB name, brand and website.

Richard Fleming, head of restructuring at administrators KPMG, said: "Successive attempts to restructure the business, both financially and operationally, have not been enough to prevent the company falling into administration.

"Unfortunately a buyer could only be found for 20 stores on a going-concern basis."

The majority of the chain's branches have now closed with almost 2,200 redundancies announced nationwide. KPMG have confirmed all redundant employees have been paid outstanding wages.

Around 550 employees have been retained, including at the company's warehouse in Wigan.

Wigan Football Club Chairman Dave Whelan founded the business 41 years ago in Wigan, and rapid expansion saw the company boast over 400 stores in the UK and Republic of Ireland in 2005.

However, he sold up in 2007 to concentrate on running the football club, and the company has lurched from one crisis to another since.

Sales figures fell behind Sports Direct and JD Sports and former chief executive Chris Ronnie - who bought Whelan's stake in the business for £190million - was charged with fraud and money laundering offences earlier this year relating to his tenure at the helm of JJB. He denies the charges.

A cash-injection of £30million from existing shareholders and US retailers Dick's Sporting Goods in April failed to boost profits at the company.

After losing £100million in 2011, the company was put on the market with debts of £36million in August.

The administrators say they remain hopeful some of the redundant staff will be re-employed by other retailers as they look to sell the leases of the JJB stores.

Customers have reported being asked to leave the shops today as the scale of the company's financial problems became apparent with stores closing midway through opening hours.

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