Chris Ronnie, the former JJB Sports chief executive, who was sacked after being held responsible for the retailer’s demise, has claimed executive chairman Sir David Jones considered taking the business private.
An email dated March 2008 and seen by the Observer revealed that Ronnie and Jones, had together considered a possible deal to take the company private.
The news followed claims made by Ronnie that he has been made a scapegoat by Jones. In the foreword to JJB Sports’ annual report Jones said: “A series of bad business decisions taken by former members of the executive management team… brought the company dangerously close to insolvency.”
Ronnie told the Observer that he had been singled out when the wider board should have taken responsibility for JJB’s woes. He said: “I did not make these decisions on my own - they were given full board approval and directors were updated constantly. I brought David in to be my mentor on the corporate side; he was very involved in the day-to-day running of the business and had a full understanding of where it was going.”
He added:”The last six months has been a slaughter and I want to put my side of the story.”
Ronnie was removed as chief executive in March after his 27.5% stake in the Wigan-based firm was seized by administrators of the failed Icelandic bank Kaupthing, from which he had secured a £190 million loan.
The sportswear firm’s future looked in doubt until a rescue deal in March saw the sale of its fitness chains back to founder Dave Whelan and a £50m lifeline from lenders. JJB’s OSC fashion chain and Qube footwear stores had been placed in administration in February.
A JJB spokesman, however, dismissed Ronnie’s claims, saying: “He continues to make allegations which are either false, misleading or irrelevant.”