It has emerged that Jones, who is in serious hot water over the timing of a £1.5m loan he received from Mike Ashley, the founder of JJB’s arch-rival Sports Direct, has put his West Yorkshire home on the market for £2.25m.
For those who may be interested in snapping up a bargain, the pile – a plush seven bed number in the millionaire’s enclave of Ilkley, the ‘Kensington of the North’ as it is sometimes known – sits in three acres of grounds and boasts both a snooker room and a games room, two en-suite bathrooms and a five car garage. Make him an offer, it’s a bear market.
Despite the vocal support of JJB’s board and main shareholders, the aggro over the loan does have the potential to threaten Jones’s position there if it goes on for too long. The row centres on whether he took out the loan before or after joining JJB – Jones says it was definitely before he took up the job, but Mike Ashley told The Times that he remembers it as being shortly afterwards, adding ‘You can imagine my surprise when David approached me for a loan. I though it was a bizarre thing to do.’
As if all this wasn’t enough, it seems that Jones has also lost a fair chunk f change in a failed restaurant venture, The Grove, in Ilkley. It opened in 2004 but closed for good in July 2007. Only shortly before Jones asked Ashley for the loan. What a tangled web. A spokesman for JJB says that the house is up for sale because Jones and his wife are downsizing now that their family has grown up. Which sounds plausible we must admit.
The timing of the row could hardly be worse for JJB, looking as it is to raise a £50m refinancing deal. Until all this blew up, Jones was seen as a perfect hire for the troubled sportswear retailer, a safe and experienced pair of hands on the tiller just in the nick of time.
It’s all undoubtedly very unfortunate for the talented and well-regarded Jones, who is a long-time sufferer from Parkinson’s disease to add to all his woes. He’s had a hugely distinguished career in retailing, from his days at Grattan to his many years at Next, where he launched the successful Next Directory catalogue and hired current CEO Simon Wolfson. It just proves the old adage that it takes a lifetime to make a reputation but only a moment to lose it.
Perhaps the news that Nationwide is re-introducing the 125% mortgage may provide Jones with some comfort. Although the mortgage is aimed at helping those in negative equity raise enough money to move house – probably one of the few money worries Jones doesn’t have at present – he could take one out and use the extra dosh to pay Ashley back…
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