Consumers cool on buying replica kit

Marc Sidwell
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YOU can buy plenty of all-weather gear from the JJB Sports website, but that didn’t help the retailer’s performance in May and June, which yesterday it partly put down to the dismal summer weather. With its shares falling off a cliff on the news, down almost 25 per cent over the day, markets clearly aren’t holding out much hope of a break in the clouds soon. And no wonder. The company forecasts a pre-tax loss of £32m in 2013 and it doesn’t expect to break even before 2015, at the earliest.

But the year’s a game of two halves, and fans of JJB Sports won’t have long to wait for a full update at the annual general meeting on 19 July. In the meantime, yesterday also brought the announcement of a new chairman, Robert J Corliss. Due to step into the role at the start of September, he brings the age-old hope of sides down on their luck everywhere – that a new manager will make all the difference.

JJB’s results also say something pretty alarming about the wider prospects for branded sporting goods this summer. Making money selling replica football kits during Euro 2012 might sound like the most of open of goals, but not for JJB, whose sales of kits and associated products hit the bar and bounced far wide of expectations.

That’s not just worrying for JJB, but possibly for the Euro 2012 profits of its competitors as well. Sports Direct may have kept up decent sales figures as a result of the deep discounts it offered at the time, but that will have eaten into its margins. It and fellow rival JD Sports did see their share prices fall a few percentage points, although neither saw anything like JJB’s precipitous tumble.

With the Olympic Games just weeks away, it’s not just prize profits from the football championship that are in question. London’s organising committee planned to sell £1bn in merchandise by the end of the year to raise £80m toward its budget. Let’s hope its figures are looking sunnier.

Marc Sidwell is City A.M.’s managing editor.