JJB buys footwear firm for £1

UK retail chain JJB Sports said today it has bought Qube Footwear from a private equity group run by Scottish billionaire Tom Hunter for a nominal sum of £1 (€1.20).

JJB adds the 22-store Qube business to its growing footwear business, having already bought the Original Shoe Company in December last year for £5m (€6.3m).

Tom’s West Coast Capital said it sold Qube as part of a portfolio “rationalisation”.

The chain has since been through a restructuring process that saw some stores closed, although JJB said it believed that the store portfolio taken on in the deal were trading at a “broadly break even level”.

Ewan Hunter, spokesman for West Coast Capital, said: “This continues the rationalisation of our portfolio, however we remain committed to the retail and property sectors for the long-term. This is the right deal for this business going forward.”

Qube’s managing director Brian McCluskey added that the sale to JJB would help the business grow “in a cost-efficient manner”.

JJB also announced that Qube’s warehousing would remain in Dundonald in Scotland under the terms of the deal.

It reported earlier this week that like-for-like sales in the 13 weeks to April 27 were down 5.3%, while total sales were down 8.3% on 2007.

JJB’s fortunes have been impacted by its exposure to the replica kit market and the failure of any of the home nations to qualify for next month’s Euro 2008 football tournament.

The company has also committed to open more combined fitness clubs and superstores, a format which has so far proved successful.

Chris Ronnie, chief Executive of JJB, said on today’s acquisition: “The acquisition of Qube is a further step in our strategy of accessing the sports lifestyle market, whilst maintaining our strategy of being ’Serious about Sport’ within our core JJB retail stores.

“Qube is a rapidly growing business, with excellent potential, which we believe will complement our recent acquisition of the Original Shoe Company and reinforce our presence in this area of the market.”

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