Sport chains mull merger

CASH-strapped sports retailer JJB Sports is in takeover talks with its rival, JD Sports Fashion, the companies confirmed yesterday.

JJB, which plans to raise an emergency £31.5m from investors, and its far more successful competitor said merger discussions had started but there was no certainty of a deal. If combined, the two chains would create a significant UK high street player.

“JJB Sports plc confirms that it is in initial discussions with JD Sports Fashion plc in relation to a potential offer,” JJB’s statement said. “The highly preliminary nature of these discussions is such that there can be no certainty that any offer will be made or as to the terms of any offer.”

JD Sports is valued at about £400m, compared with JBB at about £30m, and whereas JD beat its own forecasts for December’s trading, loss-making JJB saw sales fall 15.7 per cent from November to December last year.