Sporting success: Wigan’s JJB Sports get £30m lifeline from US retail giant as Bury’s JD Sports expect further growth

By Dean Wilkins

Two Greater Manchester sport retail giants are winning the economic safety race, as multi-million pound investments and increased sales secure JJB and JD’s future.

Wigan-based JJB Sports are being given a £30million lifeline by an American retailer giant as Bury-based JD Sports expect profit growth.

Dick’s Sporting Goods agreed to invest £20million in new shares and efforts to address the lossmaking business while JJB’s existing shareholders will provide an extra £10million.

The British sportswear firm reported a full-year operating loss of £103.5m, with like-for-like sales down by 13.1%; with group like-for-like sales in the last nine weeks also down by 5.7%

JJB’s chief executive Keith Jones told Sky: “The realities are we needed to invest in the business, so we have been planning for some time to look at strategic investors and Dicks came along and were the right partner for us.

“I think they bring us a level of experience of delivering exactly what it is we set out to deliver to the UK market: an authentic, sports retailer and they’re one of the biggest – if not the best – in the world.”

JJB was on the verge of administration and has closed 54 stores over the last year.

However, with new financial backing the company is planning to specialise in sportswear retail, providing expertise to customers, and to expand their golf equipment range.

“I think additionally, of course, they give us the experience of brand relationship – which is so important to our future as well,” Mr Jones added.

“I think the most important thing that we’ll do going forward is that which we’ve committed to do in the past, which is, invest in our stores in order to deliver a very different experience for our customers and one that differentiates us from everybody else in the market.”

Edward W Stack, chairman and Chief executive of Dick’s, said: “We believe that JJB is a strong company with the potential to become a leading multi-channel sporting goods retailer both in Britain and throughout Europe.”

Sportswear firm JD Sports Fashion’s recent acquisition of Blacks Leisure for £20 million is expected to affect its full-year profits next Thursday, but the underlying picture remains fit and healthy.

The Bury-based company, which operates 350 JD Sports and Size? outlets and bought 290 Blacks and Millets stores after going bust last year, is forecast to report pre-tax profits of around £72 million, down £9.6million from the previous year.

However the company bounced back with a stronger-than-expected 0.1% like-for-like sales growth in the five weeks to January 7, compared to a 4% decline in October and November, and experts expect this trend to continue.


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