JJB recovery plan hit by £181m loss

JJB Sports, the struggling retailer rescued by a deal with landlords in March, said annual losses ballooned to £181m and it could take five years to fix the business.

The company said on Wednesday trading in the first quarter of its new financial year had met its expectations and it planned to revamp 150 stores over the course of the year, following a big rise in profits and sales at pilot outlets.

However, it warned a full recovery would take years in a tough business environment, with consumer spending under pressure from rising prices and austerity measures.

"The restructuring of JJB will not be easy or quick and will most likely take three to five years," it said.

"The retail environment is challenging, will remain so for some time and we face intense competition."

JJB, which competes with larger rival Sports Direct as well as grocers and online retailers, said it made a loss before tax of £181.4m in the year ended 30 January.

That compared with a loss of £68.6m the year before, and in part reflected the poor stock packages available to the company as it struggled for survival.

JJB's rescue deal with landlords in March was the second in two years, and allowed it to close weaker stores and cut rent payments on some others. Without the deal, the firm would have fallen into administration and creditors would have lost more.

JJB, which has raised £96.5m to fund its turnaround plan, said sales at six revamped stores were 16 percent above the group average, with gross profit up 30 per cent.

The new stores have improved layout and labelling, and are targeting at keen amateurs, recreational sports participants and sporting families.