Spotlight on: Keith Jones, JJB Sports chief executive

Not seen this chap before.

Well, there is no reason for you to know him, unless you are a retail aficionado of electricals and sports equipment.

Why's that?

He has been the chief executive of JJB Sports since March 2010 and was previously the group retail director at Dixons.

What type of operator is he?

A straight-talking retailer; a stock and store man through and through. He is also a bit of a workaholic.

For example?

Apparently, he didn't take a single day off in his first 18 months at JJB.

Hasn't JJB had problems?

You could say that. JJB came close to collapse in 2009 and 2011, but saved itself on both occasions by implementing an insolvency procedure to shed scores of stores.

Tough love for investors?

No kidding. Its shares traded at 293.5p in May 2007 and it's been largely downhill since then. Its investors have ploughed £196m into JJB via three fundraisings since October 2009.

How is it trading?

Not great. Its like-for-like sales fell by 5.7 per cent for the five weeks to 29 January, and it is still on track for a full-year loss of up to £60m.

Oh dear...

Well, there were some positives. The decline in sales has slowed, and JJB increased its cash gross margin by 32.1 per cent recently.

Anything else?

Its year-end net debt came in at a lower-than-expected £11.3m. This helped to push up JJB's shares to 11.5p, giving it a market capitalisation of £33.73m.

Sounds promising for him?

Under a five-year scheme to 2016, Mr Jones and its chairman, Mike McTighe, could each receive over £18.4m in shares, if JJB's market value soars.

Blimey ...

Steady on. The odds on JJB's market capitalisation reaching £490m by April 2016 are long.

More hard work then?

Yes, but Mr Jones seems used to it.

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