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JD hires Drew for online push as JJB talks disclosed

Young fashion giant JD Sports Fashion has vowed to maintain JJB Sports as a separate chain if it succeeds in buying the business at the same time as it mapped out plans to strengthen its own online offering.

JD Sports Fashion has hired Asos menswear branded buyer Paul Drew to lead an assault on the online young branded fashion market. Drew will join in March as head of internet buying and is tasked with growing the number of brands on JD’s five multi-branded sites including www.bankfashion.co.uk and significantly growing sales.

JD Sports Fashion confirmed this week it was in “early stage discussions” to buy ailing sportswear chain JJB Sports.

JD Sports Fashion executive chairman Peter Cowgill said discussions were at a preliminary stage but that JD Sports Fashion’s management team would have “a lot to offer” JJB Sports in terms of expertise.

JJB Sports is valued at about £30m. JJB Sports said multiple approaches to buy the business were received before Christmas but that talks were only progressing with JD Sports Fashion. Combined, the groups would have about 700 stores.

Like-for-like sales at JJB Sports were down 11.1% for the period from December 20 to January 23, 2011. Its net debt at January 27 was £21.3m. Separately, the company announced a share placing to raise £31.5m to cure a covenant breach on a £25m facility with Lloyds bank.

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