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JJB founder raises concerns over retailer's survival

JJB Sports founder David Whelan has said the struggling sports chain’s future looks bleak after US backer Dick’s Sporting Goods wrote off the value of its investment in the retailer.

Whelan, who now owns Wigan Athletic, told The Sun: ” I can’t see how they’re going to survive.”

JJB Sports shareholder Dick’s injected £20m cash into the retailer just five months ago. A further £20m investment was expected next year but yesterday it wrote off the investment and said the retailer’s performance had “materially deteriorated from its expectations”. The move caused JJB Sports’ shares to plummet 24% to 3.3p yesterday.

Whelan sold out of JJB in 2007.

He said: “When I see how badly JJB is doing, and now it looks like Dick’s has withdrawn any help, it just looks like JJB is going to go.

“It would be absolutely upsetting if it does go, but business is business.

“When you lose money like that, you are going to pay the price.”

Whelan ruled out a bid to rescue the business himself, which he founded in the 1970s and grew into Britain’s largest sports chain with 400 stores, saying he was “too old”.

Ealier this week it was reported that private equity tycoonJon Moulton has offered to buy JJB Sports through his firm Better Capital, while fund manager Invesco, which owns a 47% stake in JJB, has also expressed an interest in the debt in an attempt to force a restructuring of the ailing retailer.

JJB now has 180 stores following two restructurings in 2009 and 2011. JJB last month called for more cash after a difficult start to the summer.

Whelan said the problems at the troubled retailer were a result of “poor management”.

He added: “The last three or four years have been absolutely tough. But when I sold out it was generating profits of £20m.

“It has had something like six chief executives over the past three to four years and it’s probably just mis-management if I’m being totally honest.”

A JJB Sports spokesman said talks with investors were continuing.

Readers' comments (1)

  • Whelan is talking sense and in this trade there isn't many of his like around. More the pity.

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