JJB slams OFT kit inquiry

JJB Sports has hit out at the Office of Fair Trading's investigation into the pricing of replica football kits.

The OFT announced last May that JJB and 10 other companies were under scrutiny for alleged price-fixing.

JJB bosses fear they will be found guilty, but insist they are innocent of any wrongdoing.

The OFT has asked for details of turnover for the product categories involved.

A JJB spokeswoman said this implied that the OFT, which can fine up to 10 per cent of turnover, is already planning to impose a penalty.

'We expect to be found guilty, but we will appeal any decision,' she said. 'It seems the approach of the OFT is to find guilty and then it's up to you to prove your innocence.' She described the OFT as 'judge, jury and executioner'.

JJB, which took over discount department store group TJ Hughes last year, announced a 17 per cent drop in profits for the year to January 31. Like-for-like sales at the core JJB chain fell by 0.2 per cent, but were 0.9 per cent ahead for the eight weeks to March 23.

A management buy-out of JJB by chairman and founder Dave Whelan is possible, but no news is expected for some weeks.