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JJB recruits for lifestyle team

JJB Sports chief executive Chris Ronnie has ruled out discounting at the group’s Qube and Original Shoe Co chains, while the business lines up candidates to run both businesses under a new lifestyle division.

Ronnie told Drapers he was in talks to appoint a managing director for the group’s new sports lifestyle division, which will operate from a new office in Manchester.

JJB Sports bought the 22-store footwear chain Qube last week from Sir Tom Hunter’s private equity firm West Coast Capital, as predicted by Drapers (May 2). The firm will add it to its sports fashion portfolio, which also includes the Original Shoe Co chain, which it bought from Sports Direct last December in response to rival John David Group’s acquisition of young fashion chain Bank.

Ronnie said both chains would be run from the new office as full-price operations.

“There has been a lot of speculation from suppliers about us discounting,” he said. “There will be no discounting. It will be the opposite. We will get some new, more upmarket brands into Original Shoe Co to go into stores at the end of July and the beginning of August. We’re talking to the likes of Timberland and Ben Sherman.

“With Qube we’re reviewing the brand mix a little – we feel we can bring more to the party, making it a little bit more upmarket and putting in our own brands, such as Travel Fox, which we bought recently, and new brands that we’ve yet to acquire. We want to have up to 150 Original Shoe Co and Qube stores.”

One supplier said JJB would have a reasonable amount of power with suppliers. “Original Shoe Co has good locations, and if it invests in them then we would take a decision to supply based on that,” he said.

“We have been happy with the brand adjacencies at Qube though, so if that stays the same then we would continue to supply as it meets our distribution criteria.

“We have seen a real shake up of the market and there are fewer middle-market branded retailers to sell to,” he added.

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