Fight to save JJB jobs

JJB Sports headquarters at Martland Park, Wigan
JJB Sports headquarters at Martland Park, Wigan

COUNCIL chiefs have pledged to do everything possible to safeguard Wiganers’ jobs after sportswear giant JJB put itself up for sale.

The beleaguered retailer, which is saddled with more than £35m of debts and outstanding loans, is one of Wigan’s most recognisable companies, based at Martland Mill.

The struggling firm, originally founded by Latics boss David Whelan, took the decision after revealing the scale of its financial issues in a statement yesterday.

The grim document confirmed JJB, which has 180 stores and employs around 4,000 people, has debts and outstanding loans of more than £35m and the state of the company’s balance sheet was such that there was no guarantee any investors would be found for the company, or that shareholders would see any return.

Attempts to turn the company around by restructuring its portfolio of stores and raising more capital had failed, and recovery plans could no longer be put into action, raising the likelihood of a mass sale of assets.

The news comes just weeks after one of JJB’s major backers dumped millions of shares, sending stock values plunging, and a major American investor wrote off its £20m investment.

Wigan MP Lisa Nandy said: “This is an extremely worrying development. I have approached the company to try to ensure the right solution is reached, both for the staff involved and for Wigan.”

FULL REPORT AND REACTION IN THE WIGAN EVENING POST (FRIDAY) ...