JJB Sports plans to expand in the South

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JJB Sports unveiled an ambitious expansion plan in the South yesterday as continued buoyant trading in branded sportswear helped the Wigan-based retailer report doubled half-time profits and a 50 per cent jump in the interim dividend.

David Whelan, founder and 26 per cent shareholder, said trading had remained strong in the second half so far, although at a lower level than the 18 per cent like-for-like sales growthachieved in the first six months.

He added: "We believe that our strong expansion programme and the continuing demand for branded sports related products will result in a very satisfactory outcome to the whole year."

JJB, which came to the market at the end of 1994 at an equivalent share price of 76p, closed yesterday at 504p, 5p up on the day and close to its all-time high.

During the six months to July, JJB opened 20 stores. It is moving towards larger superstores, which now account for 47 out of a total of 186. There are plans to open 25 more by the end of the year and 50 in 1998.