JJB Sports sales up 44% on acquisitions

JJB Sports provided further evidence of a strong upturn in consumer confidence yesterday, announcing "substantially" improved sales figures in the 11 months to December. Sales improved across all product categories in the chain's 170 sports shops.

David Whelan, the former Blackburn footballer who started JJB in 1961 with the compensation he received after being stretchered off the 1960 FA Cup final, said: "I am very pleased both with the sales increases that have been achieved and particularly with the progress and development of our superstore concept."

During the 11-month period, sales jumped 44 per cent, largely driven by an acquisition programme that saw 38 stores added. Like-for-like sales, however, also increased by 12 per cent and the company maintained its gross margin on the higher turnover.

Mr Whelan said JJB's store opening programme for 1997 had started well with contracts exchanged on 27 stores and a further 11 being near to exchange. A new superstore with 21,000 sq ft of selling space is expected to open in Oxford Street in late March.

JJB's shares closed unchanged yesterday at 295p, at which level they have almost quadrupled since the company came to the stock market in 1995.

During that period it has ridden a wave of City enthusiasm for sports retailers that has also seen rival Blacks Leisure's shares soar and JD Sports stage a successful market debut.

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