JJB Sports plunges to a huge 43m loss

EMBATTLED sportswear retailer JJB Sports yesterday reported widening losses for the six months to July, dragging the group &pound;42.9m into the red.<br /><br />JJB Sports said that the losses had grown from &pound;14.8m the year before, as revenue dived by 42.5 per cent to &pound;178.6m.<br /><br />The group also said like-for-like sales were down by 27.4 per cent.<br /><br />Despite the fall in profits executive chairman Sir David Jones told City A.M.: &ldquo;I think that we are getting there &ndash; when you are climbing a mountain you take one step at a time. We are making forward progress.&rdquo;<br /><br />Jones was parachuted into the group in January after a series of decisions by JJB&rsquo;s previous management dragged the retailer to the brink of insolvency.<br /><br />Since then the group has sold its fitness centres to founder David Whelan for &pound;83.4m and negotiated &pound;25m of new banking facilities.<br /><br />Jones said: &ldquo;A lot of people didn&rsquo;t think we would be around today and we are around. The company didn&rsquo;t go into administration.&rdquo;<br /><br />The company said that it was trialling 26 refurbished stores with its improved &ldquo;serious about sport&rdquo; layout and said that those stores were currently sales that were 50 per cent higher than other outlets. But the group said it was waiting for a longer trial period &ldquo;before claiming there is light at end of the tunnel&rdquo;.<br /><br />The group confirmed it was looking for candidates for a chief executive role, but Jones said that he &ldquo;was in no rush&rdquo; and would stay on a full term basis until he was &ldquo;totally certain that the recovery is well established&rdquo;.<br /><br />Jones, who is credited with turning around struggling retailer Next in the late 1980s, said that he wanted JJB to &ldquo;be the Next in the sports sector&rdquo;. He said: &ldquo;It doesn&rsquo;t want to become a sports fashion retailer like JD Sports&hellip; and I certainly don&rsquo;t want it to be a discounter like Sports Direct&rdquo;.<br /><br />Earlier this month, Jones blew the whistle on arch-rival Mike Ashley, owner of Sports Direct, telling the Office of Fair Trading he had been involved in fixing prices of football shirts.