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Wigan-based JJB Sports struggle to revive sales during Euro 2012 despite £20million lifeline

By Dean Wilkins

Struggling Wigan-based business JJB Sports failed to earn a vital boost after disappointing sales throughout Euro 2012.

American retailers Dick’s Sporting Goods agreed a £20million deal to save the company after they came close to collapse last year – but they suffered an 8% fall in like-for-like sales in the first six months.

The wettest months on record for April and June further dampened sales as chairman Mike McTighe announced he will step down in September after ’20 intense months’.

JJB hoped store refurbishments would improve revenue in time for the Euro 2012 championships and the London 2012 Olympics.

Seymour Pierce analyst Freddie George said: “To date there is no evidence that the company has found a niche in sporting goods and a format which is differentiated from its competitors. There must now be question marks over the refurbishment programme.”

JJB has 180 stores nationwide and 4,000 employees, but lost £101million in 2011 to January and Mr George said he expected a pre-tax loss of £32million in the current financial year.

Bob Corliss, who will become chairman following Mr McTighe’s resigning, said: “JJB has been through some difficult times yet it is clear that there is a real market opportunity for a national authentic sports retailer here in the UK.

“JJB can be that retailer and I’m energised by the prospect of leading the company through the next phase of its turnaround.”

JJB was forced to secure £96.5million in funds from major shareholders in 2011, and close 43 unprofitable stores and place an additional 46 on review in a bid to fend off administration.

Dick’s, which has more than 500 stores in the USA, agreed to invest an initial £20million alongside.

The money was used to convert 60 of its most important, and during trials they produced greatly improved sales and margins.

 

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