Matalan’s new sports venture Sporting Pro is targeting more than 100 stores within four to five years as it aims to fill the gap left by JJB.

Sporting Pro boss Tom Knight, told Retail Week that he believes there is a gap in the retail market for an expert sports fascia and JJB’s disappearance from the market has left them with an opportunity to create a new brand.

He said: “There’s a gap in the market. We want to present sports in a way that will excite the consumer.”

“JJB’s demise is part of it obviously. There are geographic gaps but more importantly products.”

Knight believes the current sports offer from JD Sports and Sports Direct is not able to cater for customers who want performance-led sportswear and equipment.

“JD Sports is not really a sports store, it’s more about fashion and Sports Direct is very much about an own brand proposition. So it’s very difficult for [sports]brands to come to market.”

It comes as Adidas and Nike start an expansion drive and Reebok is set to return to retail with a Covent Garden store that opens at the beginning of September.

Matalan will launch its new fascia Sporting Pro next month and aims to operate 14 stores by December.

The stores will be particularly focused on luring women in because Knight believes the current retail offer doesn’t cater for them.

“We think that if we present a brand that is clear, concise and crisp it will make it easier for women to shop,” he said.

The business is a subsidiary of Matalan, but Knight said that from the consumer’s eyes it will look “completely independent” of the value fashion chain.

This year Sporting Pro will open five stores which are adjacent to existing Matalan stores, by taking excess space. Knight said these stores will stand at 5,000 sq ft and will have their own fascia and entrance. The standalone format will be on average 10,000 sq ft and could be as large as 15,000 sq ft.

Knight said that due to the store sizes, they are likely to be located on retail parks.

Up to four stores will open in September with the first likely to be in Walsall, next to an existing Matalan store.

Knight said Sporting Pro’s offer will be “all about choice”.

“There will be product for performance, so if you want to spend £100 on a pair of trainers, you can. But also if you want to buy some football boots for a youngster, we will have that too.”