JJB takes stake in Umbro

Business Materials 20 October 2007 00:29 (UTC +04:00)

Sports retailer JJB Sports has taken a 10.12 percent stake in sportswear firm Umbro to safeguard its interest in the market for replica football shirts, it said on Friday.

Umbro, sponsor of the England football team and maker of replica shirts, announced on Thursday it had received an approach from an unnamed suitor -- named as U.S. sportswear giant Nike by sources familiar with the matter -- sending its shares up 30 percent.

"JJB is taking the stake as a way of protecting its interests in relation to the England shirts contract," a spokeswoman for the group said.

Umbro has been working on a strategy that focuses more on soccer clothing rather than England replica shirts. It hoped that by expanding its international business, its financial performance would be less bumpy when moving from a year with a big tournament to a non-tournament year.

Umbro shares closed up just over 13 percent on Friday at 173 pence, valuing JJB's newly acquired stake at around 25.6 million pounds. ( Reuters )