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JJB Sports staff reap pounds 4.5m

Thirty four workers at JJB Sports, the sports retailer, have made a paper fortune of pounds 4.5m between them on share options granted at the time of the company's stock market flotation.

The senior staff, which include area managers, buyers and warehouse managers, were granted the options over JJB shares when the retailer came to the market in 1994. The shares, which started trading at the equivalent of 77p three years ago, closed at 604p last Friday, a rise of 684 per cent though they edged down to 593.25p yesterday. The current market value of the shares under option is pounds 5.15m, with a gain of pounds 4.5m.

In its three years on the market JJB has grown its turnover from pounds 60.5m to pounds 130m while profits have risen from pounds 7.6m to pounds 20.3m

David Whelan, chairman of JJB said: "I believe that no business can grow at this rate without significant input of time and effort by its staff and I am delighted that so many of our senior staff are benefiting from the company's success over the last three years."

Mr Whelan said he was confident that a significant number of the shares would be retained by the staff though some kind of "spending spree" is expected.

JJB had 123 stores at the time of flotation. It opens its 200th outlet next month. The company has benefited from the surge in popularity in branded sportswear with clothing and trainers from companies such as Adidas, Nike and Reebok.