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JJB Sports calls in administrators
JJB Sports - once the biggest sports retailer in Britain - has admitted defeat as it announced plans to appoint administrators.
Just five years ago, JJB's shares were worth £10 a piece but the stock has been suspended and remaining investors - including Microsoft magnate Bill Gates - will see their holdings wiped out.
The group will appoint KPMG as administrators in the next few days in a move that is likely to promote further debate over how it has been managed in recent years.
As many as half of its 180 stores are expected to close in a so-called pre-pack sale process once administrators are appointed, threatening a large number of the 4,000 jobs at the firm.
JJB's story of dramatic rise and fall began when former Blackburn Rovers footballer and Wigan Athletic owner Dave Whelan bought a single store in Wigan in 1971 before an aggressive expansion drive saw it climb to more than 400 stores by 2007.
In 2007 Mr Whelan sold his family's holding for £190 million to a joint venture formed by Icelandic financial group Exista and Chris Ronnie, who previously worked at Umbro and Sports World owner Sports Direct.
The group was hit hard by the squeeze on consumer spending triggered by the financial crisis and by the stellar performance of rivals Sports Direct and JD Sports. By late 2008 it was in a battle for survival.
The group has been through six chairmen in the last four years, covering a period in which it also incorrectly applied VAT to children's clothing, resulting in a £5 million tax liability. And despite numerous fundraisings and closing half of its stores, it has been unable to revive fortunes.
In a statement, JJB said: "The board has determined that any sale of the trade, assets and brands will be effected through an administration process.
"Therefore it is expected that the process to commence the appointment of administrators of the company and certain of its subsidiaries will begin today although the actual appointments are only likely to take effect just before the completion of any such sale."