JJB Sports’ biggest shareholder expects the troubled retailer will return to the black this year.

David Herro, portfolio manager at Harris Associates, which owns a 20% stake in JJB, said the retailer could be in profit by Christmas and report a £30m to £40m EBITDA within the next two to three years.

Analysts were more cautious. JJB reported a £68.6m pre-tax loss in its last financial year and is expected to make a pre-tax loss of up to £40m in the year ending January 31.

Peel Hunt analyst John Stevenson said to achieve profit this year is “a big ask”. He said: “Its plan is credible and its new stores are performing well but it needs to apply that across its estates.”

Herro said he is not putting a deadline on JJB achieving profitability. Fellow shareholder Crystal Amber, which has a 15.8% stake, holds the same view. Investment adviser Richard Bernstein said: “It has massive recovery potential. We’re putting no date or deadline on performance.”

Herro said he has confidence in new directors appointed before Christmas at the same time as it asked investors for a £31.5m cash injection. Chairman John Clare stood down to make way for former Cable & Wireless boss Mike McTighe. New finance director Dave Williams, formerly of TJ Hughes, also joined. Both have experience of restructuring and turnarounds.

Herro and Bernstein also refuted reports that JJB has asked for further funds following the pre-Christmas cash call that was supported by investors including Bill Gates’ Foundation. It had been reported JJB might request a further £50m. Herro did not rule out the possibility of investing further capital if needed.

JJB declined to comment.