Sports retailer JJB’s shares have been fluctuating amid growing market speculation that it could be the target of a management buy-out.
Sources told Retail Week that meetings were under way this week to examine the possibility of de-listing. JJB chief executive Chris Ronnie and former colleague and friend Mike Ashley, who is founder and executive deputy chairman of Sports Direct, are thought to be mooting a possible collaboration to take the company private.
A source said: “Ashley is looking at parts of the business or could become a majority stakeholder of the whole company if it is taken private.”
JJB’s leisure centres, which many believe to be the most profitable part of the business, could prove attractive to Ashley. If a deal can be agreed, de-listing could happen in as little as 12 weeks.
JJB said that it could not comment on market speculation.
Separately, JJB has brought in retail consultant Chris Lee to head its Sports Lifestyle division. Lee is the founder of men’s lifestyle chain Microzine and has 26 years’ experience in the sports and fashion markets.
The division was created following the acquisition of Qube from Sir Tom Hunter’s West Coast Capital in May for£1. It will be run alongside the Original Shoe Company, which JJB bought in December.
JJB’s Sports Lifestyle arm has 100 shops, but Ronnie hopes to increase this to 150 over 12 months.