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JJB to close 72 stores

JJB Sports is to close 72 shops to streamline its portfolio after retail operating profits slumped 17.9% to £49.4 million for the 52 weeks to January 27.

JJB’s retail revenue fell back 1.2% over the year to £745.4m, equating to a like-for-like sales fall of 0.5%. JJB said that tough comparatives against sales of world cup related merchandise in summer 2006 had hit the results. Sales of England related products fell by £23.4m over the year.

Current trading has fallen back further. Like-for-like sales were down 3% for the seven weeks to March 16 with total retail revenue 3.5% lower.

JJB said it had kicked off a store closure programme which will see 72 JJB Sports shops closed down. Seven of these sites will be rebranded to its fashion fascia Original Shoe Company. The sportswear retailer said that it did not expect the closures to impact on profits because they were located near to newer and larger JJB shops.

JJB Sports chairman Roger Lane-Smith said: “We are taking significant action to improve the performance of JJB’s retail stores. Whilst we have identified a number of stores for closure, which will itself strengthen our remaining store portfolio, we are also investing to improve the quality of our stores and product with further store refits, the introduction of new products from our own brands and the implementation of staff training and incentivisation programmes.”

Lane-Smith added: “Whilst we expect current difficult market conditions to continue to affect consumers in the short term, we believe the action we are taking represents a turning point for the company, which will benefit performance over the medium term.”

Separately finance director David Greenwood, who has been at the company for 30 years, will step down on August 31. Greenwood will be replaced by David Madeley who joined the business as commercial director in November 2007.

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