JJB lifeline approved by creditors

STRUGGLING retailer JJB Sports has avoided collapsing into administration for the second time in two years, agreeing a restructuring with landlords who will forfeit millions of pounds of rent.

Unsecured creditors of the Wigan, northwest England-based sportswear retailer, which has America’s richest man Bill Gates as a five per cent shareholder, backed its proposed company voluntary arrangement (CVA) at a meeting yesterday.

“The CVA was approved without modification by a majority of more than 75 per cent in value of the unsecured creditors of each of the company and (subsidiary) Blane (Leisure) present at the meetings in person or by proxy,” the firm said.

JJB’s landlords had faced a stark choice; back the retailer’s plan for store closures and reduced rent or see it go into administration, threatening 6,100 jobs and Britain’s biggest retail failure since Woolworths in 2009.

JJB’s landlords will now allow the retailer to close 43 stores by April 2012, with the option of closing a further 46 by April 2013. They will also accept rent at 55 per cent of current levels on the 89 stores and accept rent on a monthly rather than quarterly basis.

Closing 89 stores over the next two years means the firm could shed around 2,300 jobs.