UK: Administrators axe more than 2,000 jobs as 133 JJB stores close

NEARLY 2,200 staff at JJB Sports were made redundant today after administrator KPMG closed 133 stores and sold the remaining 20 to rival Sports Direct International.

The job losses include more than 50 in Suffolk and Essex where all three JJB stores, in Ipswich, Colchester and Chelmsford, have been axed.

The deal between the administrators and Sports Direct, which had been widely expected, will secure around 550 jobs, including staff at the company’s warehouse.

A further 167 employees have been retained in the short term to assist the administrators at the stores being closed.

A total of 19 people were employed at the Ipswich JJB store, 23 in Colchester and 15 in Chelmsford. In each case all but one of the employees have been made redundant with immediate effect.

Richard Fleming, UK Head of Restructuring at KPMG, said: “Successive attempts to restructure the business, both financially and operationally, have not been enough to prevent the company falling into administration. Unfortunately a buyer could only be found for 20 stores on a going concern basis.

“All staff made redundant as a result of store closures have had their arrears of wages and holiday entitlements paid in full.

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“Our team of employment specialists will be supporting staff on completing redundancy forms and putting them in touch with job seeker services. We will now be reviewing what options are available for the remainder of the business, such as selling leasehold interests.”

David McCorquodale, corporate finance partner at KPMG, who led the sales process, added: “In spite of the severity of financial distress suffered by the business, we spoke with over 100 parties in the first few days of our appointment, with eight trade and private equity players tabling first round bids.

“Unfortunately the level of cash and further operational restructuring required to rescue a more substantial part of the business was too much risk for most interested parties. We hope to be able to sell the leasehold interests of some of the remaining stores, which may result in re-employment of some staff.”