EMBATTLED sportswear retailer JJB Sports yesterday reported widening losses for the six months to July, dragging the group £42.9m into the red.<br /><br />JJB Sports said that the losses had grown from £14.8m the year before, as revenue dived by 42.5 per cent to £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.: “I think that we are getting there – when you are climbing a mountain you take one step at a time. We are making forward progress.”<br /><br />Jones was parachuted into the group in January after a series of decisions by JJB’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 £83.4m and negotiated £25m of new banking facilities.<br /><br />Jones said: “A lot of people didn’t think we would be around today and we are around. The company didn’t go into administration.”<br /><br />The company said that it was trialling 26 refurbished stores with its improved “serious about sport” 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 “before claiming there is light at end of the tunnel”.<br /><br />The group confirmed it was looking for candidates for a chief executive role, but Jones said that he “was in no rush” and would stay on a full term basis until he was “totally certain that the recovery is well established”.<br /><br />Jones, who is credited with turning around struggling retailer Next in the late 1980s, said that he wanted JJB to “be the Next in the sports sector”. He said: “It doesn’t want to become a sports fashion retailer like JD Sports… and I certainly don’t want it to be a discounter like Sports Direct”.<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.