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FRENCH sports retailer Decathlon is to open a new store in Southampton next month, bringing 40 jobs.

The world’s biggest sports retailer has taken over the former JJB store on the West Quay retail park and is giving it a £500,000 makeover.

The new store is Decathlon’s 14th in the UK and the first on the south coast. The next nearest is Reading.

Decathlon UK managing director Steve Dykes said the company had been eyeing Southampton for “a long time” and was delighted to have secured the city centre site.

He said the store will cater for 70 sports, from more technical sports like archery and kayaking to cycling, rugby and football.

The store will run various demonstrations throughout the year and Mr Dykes said he was looking to recruit “sports people” to be able to offer expert advice to customers.

The new store, due to open on December 7, comes as a welcome boost to the city’s shopping offer after JJB Sports collapsed with £150m debts. Rival Sports Direct bought 20 JJB stores, including its outlet in Winchester’s High Street.

Decathlon is sponsoring Southampton’s Christmas ice rink, which opens today.

The Decathlon Group runs 240 stores across France, and 180 in Spain among other countries throughout Europe.

It has a turnover of around £5 billion and more than 40,000 employees worldwide. It made its first profit in the UK last year, after ten years.