Former JJB Sports chief executive Tom Knight is being backed by the retailer’s major shareholders to return to lead the sports retailer and drive its turnaround.
Lead investors Harris Associates and Crystal Amber are throwing their weight behind Knight, who confirmed he has had a meeting with chairman Sir David Jones about the role.
Speaking to Retail Week, Knight said: “I can confirm I was approached by major shareholders and have had a meeting with Jones.” Any appointment would need to be cleared by the non-executive directors on the JJB board including former DSGi boss John Clare, who joined at the end of July.
Knight said he believed that, handled correctly, JJB Sports has a bright future. “It has the opportunity to be recognised as the retailer for sports product. No one is better placed than JJB if they can get their finance and stock in place,” he said.
Harris Associates chief executive Dave Herro said: “I know Tom Knight very well and have great respect for him. It is the board’s job to find a suitable chief executive and if that is Knight I will agree 100% and I am fully supportive.”
Herro also hit out at sacked JJB Sports chief executive Chris Ronnie, who has launched a campaign to try to improve his tarnished reputation by revealing extracts of email conversations between him and Jones. In the emails Jones, then a non-executive director, seems to support Ronnie’s strategy and to suggest the pair were discussing taking the business private together.
Extracts from the emails also have Jones allegedly making derogatory remarks about various fellow members of the board.
Ronnie claims he has been made a “scapegoat” for the near collapse of JJB, pointing out he had the board’s support for his strategy when he led the company.
Herro said: “Ronnie represents the past, he is an extremely disgruntled ex-employee; no reasonable person would believe him.”
He added: “If Ronnie is such a good leader he should step up and make a bid for the company.”