And it wasn’t due to yesterday’s mainstream malaise in stocks but a reaction to the news that first-half profits would not match those of last year. And that’s from a retailer which sold football kit during the World Cup fever. But get this: it was all sold at such pitiful margins, JJB Sports profited little from the event that impacted badly on IBD sales during June.

JJB Sports shares dropped 38 percent yesterday

UBS Warburg, JJB’s broker, downgraded its full-year forecast from £120m to £105m and the shares fell 119p to 192.5p.

JJB Sports, a major retailer of bikes as well as sport kit, blamed replica England kits for the shrinking profit margins and 1 percent increase in like-for-like sales. Buyers of replica kit may otherwise have bought higher-margin branded-clothing, said a statement from JJB Sports.

But the City was having none of it. If any retailer was going to benefit from the World Cup it should have been JJB Sports and analysts now believe the retailer is “struggling” and has “outgrown itself.”

David Whelan, JJB’s Chairman, released the following statement:

“Competition on the high street has gradually increased since last autumn and I therefore expect that profits for the first half will not match those achieved in the very strong comparative period last year. I expect difficult trading to continue into 2003. I believe nevertheless that JJB has performed satisfactorily in a very competitive clothing market and that JJB will continue to generate growth in the second half of this year.”

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