Sports retailer JJB Sports has opened the first of its so-called 'new era’ stores in Birmingham.

Up to 20 new jobs have been created with the opening of the 18,000 sq ft outlet, based in part of the former Beatties department store in Corporation Street.

The Wigan-based group will be hoping the new format will help reverse flagging fortunes.

In line with high street retailers, the firm has felt the harsh effects of the consumer credit squeeze and last month it announced it would be closing 72 loss-making stores and cutting 800 jobs on the back of an expected 28.5 per cent slump in full-year underlying pretax profit.

The company has struggled this year, with sales down three per cent on a like-for-like basis.

The new-look store, which replaces the company’s previous city centre outlet in High Street, is one of the first in the country and features stock grouped by product category rather than brand to make it easier for customers.

There will be an extended footwear department, dedicated running section, new womenswear lines, as well as the company’s existing football and menswear ranges.

A new collection, exclusive to JJB Sports, is being trialed alongside the store’s opening. The Champion range is a mix of performance sports clothing and casual wear, combined with swimwear collections and sunglasses.

JJB Sports chief executive Chris Ronnie said: "The new store will answer customer demand by adopting a new format that will see stock grouped by product category rather than brand, making it easier for customers to browse.

"We are constantly reviewing our store portfolio to ensure we are offering the best shopping experience for our customers."

The new store’s manager is Chris Bolt who has worked for the firm for the past 13 years. The 33-year-old, from Solihull, started his career as a retail assistant at the former High Street branch and has previously managed five of the group’s stores in the Birmingham area.