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Loss-making sports retailer warns of slow recovery

JJB warned its recovery could take up to five years as it produced more hefty losses in a year when it came close to collapse.

The sports retailer, which has more than 200 stores in the UK and Ireland, has started to overhaul the business after it secured landlords' backing for a rescue deal.

JJB revealed plans to refit 150 stores this year but said its restructuring would not be “easy or quick” and could take three to five years.

The warning came as JJB reported a 9% increase in adjusted operating losses to £73.9m in the 52 weeks to January 30. But its pre-tax losses more than doubled to £181.4m after one-off exceptional items of £108m.

JJB secured its survival with the help of £96.5m in funds from major shareholders, including a foundation set up by Microsoft founder Bill Gates and his wife Melinda.

The cash will allow JJB to press on with its restructuring, which includes closing 43 unprofitable stores and placing a further 46 on review.

JJB, which employs around 5,200 staff, has shut 18 stores since the end of January.

Chairman Mike McTighe said JJB now has a “real chance of recovery” but added “this is the beginning of the hard work and not the end”.

He said: “The restructuring of JJB will not be easy or quick and will most likely take three to five years. The retail environment is challenging, will remain so for some time and we face intense competition.”