Matalan’s new Sporting Pro fascia is just the latest change in a sportswear retail market which has evolved rapidly since JJB Sports collapsed in October last year.

Matalan’s new Sporting Pro fascia is just the latest change in a sportswear retail market which has evolved rapidly since JJB Sports collapsed in October last year.

Just five years ago JJB turned over £800m which could represent a big hole in many sportswear brands’ pockets.

Although Sports Direct will have undoubtedly benefited from JJB demise, there is a portion of pie left uneaten.

Mike Ashley’s retail juggernaut does sell a growing array of performance sportswear but its strong emphasis on price means it is not the natural home for those serious about sport.

The store environment in some of its shops may also be worrying for some sports brands, for whom image is vital.

The fact that Nike and Adidas backed JJB through its woes – just months before its collapse Adidas agreed to provide security for a loan to fund its much-needed store revamp programme – shows how important a performance specialist is to even the biggest of brands.

JD struck when the iron was hot late last year, launching JD Pro in Bow Lane, London, in an attempt to attract sporty City types.

However, little noise has been heard about the trial and its future was put into doubt when its principal architect, former JJB boss Tom Knight, decamped to Matalan not long after its launch.

Knight is clearly confident of the opportunity because he is replicating the approach at Matalan with Sporting Pro. Like JD Pro, Sporting Pro uses the buying power of Intersport and will sell brands such as Nike, Adidas, New Balance, Asics, and Reebok as well as an array of sporting equipment.

In a clear sign that it aims to fill a JJB-shaped hole, Sporting Pro has a “strong women’s presence”, a niche that the collapsed retailer targeted.

Matalan seems to have more confidence in the approach than JD, because it plans to open 14 stores by December. The first will debut on September 6 although the location has not yet been disclosed.

However, big sportswear brands are not sitting and waiting for a nationwide sportswear retailer to appear overnight – names such as Nike, Adidas and Reebok are taking matters into their own hands.

Nike has revealed plans to double its UK store estate to 60 over the next few years and Adidas, which opened its gleaming Trinity Leeds flagship today, is also hitting the expansion trail. Reebok, which had a big presence in JJB Stores, is also returning to retail with the fit-out for its first store in Covent Garden underway for the grand opening next month and a flagship in Bluewater signed for.

New stores and brands’ increasing interest in becoming retailers too, the sportswear market could look very different and be much more competitive in five years’ time.

In fact, JJB’s demise may well bring increased risk as well as reward for Sports Direct.