Britain's largest sportswear chain JJB Sports, still reeling from the death of chief executive Duncan Sharpe, has admitted a management buyout is a possibility after a sharp fall in interim profits.

The Wigan-based operator of around 430 stores yesterday reported a 16.8 per cent year-on-year slide in first-half pre-tax profit to £39.3 million and said same-store sales in its core JJB business rose 0.1 per cent in the first half but slipped 1.1 per cent in the 10 weeks since August 1.

Finance director Dave Greenwood refused to rule out a management buyout but at the same time said it is one of a number of options being considered.

"Obviously with the share price where it is everyone always asks us whether we are thinking about an MBO," he said. "It would be wrong of us not to be considering a whole range of options. But it is not at the front of our minds."