JJB in fresh crisis

The closed down JJB Sports shop in the Grand Arcade
The closed down JJB Sports shop in the Grand Arcade

WIGAN retail giant JJB Sports was facing a fresh crisis today after rotten weather wrecked sales.

Fewer sales of replica shirts during the European Football Championships did not help either and shares prices slumped by almost a quarter after it was revealed that chairman Mike McTighe is due to step down.

The company warned that sales had “fallen materially short of expectations” since its last update in April.

Only in May the troubled company made 80 more redundancies across its administration and distribution network and last month closed its outlet in Wigan’s Grand Arcade after it failed to improve performance after a stay of execution the previous year.

In a statement, the struggling retailer said: “The group had experienced a deterioration in trading performance against management expectation, particularly during May and June when the expected peak in sales in connection with sales of replica football kits and associated products generated from consumer interest in the European football championships did not materialise to the extent anticipated.

“This sales performance has been further exacerbated by the poor early summer weather, which has adversely impacted sales of seasonal product.”

Like-for-like sales for the 22 weeks ending on July 1 decreased by eight per cent, the company said as it revealed that as of that date net debt was £15.4m.

The news comes just three months after the loss-making company said that current trading had been on track and after it was thrown a £20m lifeline by US retailer Dick’s Sporting Goods.

Dick’s, which runs 561 stores in the US selling guns and ammunition alongside more traditional sporting goods, said it had committed to an initial £20m investment, with the option of doubling it to £40m to give Dick’s a 61 per cent controlling stake in JJB.

Last year a restructuring deal with its landlords prevented JJB falling into administration and 41 store closures helped the company reduce its losses.

JJB said an experienced new executive, Bob Corliss, would join the board initially as deputy chaiman, to give the turnaround new impetus.

GMB regional officer Sandra Blight said: “We have had concerns about the future of the business for quite some time. They are struggling on.

“Their online business is growing and that is where they are hoping to get extra work.”