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Chris Ronnie, Chief executive, JJB Sports

It has not been rosy for JJB Sports chief executive Chris Ronnie over the past 12 months.

The retailer posted serious losses for the six months to July and has since run into further difficulties following the financial turmoil at the group’s Icelandic backers, which held a stake in the business. JJB Sports’ suppliers have struggled to get credit insurance on the firm, and the company was also forced to defend accusations that it had breached banking covenants.

JJB Sports put its lifestyle business, which includes the Original Shoe Co and Qube chains, up for sale, and JJB Sports founder Dave Whelan was also linked to a possible purchase of JJB Sports’ health clubs. However, as Drapers went to press, neither deal, which would give the cash-strapped business a lifeline, had materialised.

This month, JJB Sports offloaded stores to rival Sports Direct, which had splashed out £3.4 million on a 4.7% stake in JJB Sports. The stake-building sparked rumours that Sports Direct could buy the JJB Sports business, and last month the Office of Fair Trading launched an investigation into whether a potential merger was on the cards.

Ronnie moves up five places in this year’s Top 100 simply because he will play a key part in the future shape of the UK sportswear sector.

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