Credit insurers are refusing to provide cover for suppliers to JJB, raising questions about the troubled retailer’s future. Last month auditors to JJB warned of material uncertainties that “cast significant doubt” on its ability to continue as a going concern. The decision by Coface – the UK’s largest credit insurer – to withdraw cover is a further blow to JJB and its beleaguered chief executive Chris Ronnie.
Credit insurers protect suppliers against losses in the event of a company’s collapse. Following the withdrawal of credit insurance JJB suppliers are almost certain to demand more generous terms from JJB – including up-front payment – or refuse to supply. JJB has also become embroiled in a row with HBOS, one of its lead bankers which is owed £15m. HBOS has said JJB is technically in breach of its covenants. JJB insists it has taken advice from its lawyers and accountants, both of which concluded that there is no breach. Nevertheless the retailer is now paying 3.4pc over Libor on the £15m loan, compared with only 0.4pc before the alleged breach.
JJB Sports is one of the UK’s leading high street sports retailer, originally formed in 1971 to acquire a single sports store which had been established in Wigan during the early 1900s. The store portfolio grew to 120 stores in 1994, at which point the Company was floated on the London Stock Exchange.
In 1998, JJB Sports acquired the business of Sports Division, which was JJB’s largest competitor at the time. The acquisition then made JJB the largest sports retailer in the UK.
JJB now trades from over 317 JJB stores, 8 Clearance stores, 61 Original Shoe Company stores and 24 Qube stores nationwide with our principal aim being to supply high quality branded sports clothing, footwear and accessories at competitive prices.
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