15 jobs lost as sports store closes

FIFTEEN workers at the JJB Sports store in Middlebrook lost their jobs when administrators closed 133 stores across the UK.

A total of 2,200 jobs were axed as JJB agreed to sell 20 remaining outlets to Sports Direct International.

The Middlebrook store was open on Monday morning but closed just before noon after the firm went into administration.

Signs on the door stated: “This store is now closed. The management and staff thank you for your custom.”

A spokesman for Middlebrook said: “No further details have been made known to us, other than the signs on the doors and the official announcement.”

The administration is being handled by accountancy firm KPMG, which managed to save some stores, including those in Chorley and Rochdale, and a warehouse in the sale to Sports Direct.

Sports Direct also bought the brand and its website for £23.8 million.

KPMG said 167 employees had been retained to help the administrators.

Richard Fleming, one of the administrators, said: “Successive attempts to restructure the business have not been enough to prevent the company falling into administration.

“Unfortunately a buyer could only be found for 20 stores on a going concern basis.

“All staff made redundant have had their arrears of wages and holiday entitlements paid in full.”

He said staff would be given support and advice, and that options for the remainder of the business would be reviewed, such as selling leasehold interests.

The administrators have set up a 24-hour helpline for employees on 0845 3022538. Information is also available at kpmg.com/uk/jjb.

JJB was founded by Dave Whelan in Wigan in 1971. It expanded over the years and was floated on the Stock Exchange in 1994.

It reached a peak of 430 stores in 2005, but Mr Whelan left the chain 2007.

JJB then began trailing rivals Sports Direct and JD Sports and faced further problems with the 2008 financial crisis.

Stores were sold and its fitness clubs, which include one at Burnden in Bolton, were bought by Mr Whelan and remain open.

The growth of online shopping and the recession has hit a number of big retailers.

In March of this year, the two centre Game Station shop, in Newport Street, was closed by parent firm Game, with the loss of eight jobs, along with 12 other Greater Manchester branches.

Woolworths closed its Bolton store in 2009, which was replaced by Wilkinson this year with the creation of 40 jobs.

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