JJB Sports founder Dave Whelan is eyeing 30 to 40 stores from his former chain as he casts doubt on the likelihood of it being sold in its entirety.
Whelan told Retail Week: “There’ll be people interested in taking certain stores but no-one will be interested in the full thing. They’ll take some stores then it’ll be receivership.”
Whelan - who now owns fitness club and retail chain DW Sports, which he created after acquiring JJB’s fitness clubs in 2009 - said he was interested in adding 30 to 40 of its stores to his portfolio.
He said he did not want to acquire the JJB Sports brand, which he founded over 40 years ago, because he believes the previous management teams had “ruined it”.
He said: “In five years they’ve taken it from a £1bn business to one that’s worthless.”
JJB hoisted the for sale sign above the business last week after a period of terrible trading.
This week it emerged that KPMG, which is managing the sale process, is understood to have received over 10 expressions of interest for JJB from both trade and private equity.
Restructuring and investment firms including GA Europe, OpCapita and Better Capital are understood to have thrown their hats into the ring, while French sporting giant Decathlon, which has 500 stores in 20 countries, is thought to be the frontrunner from trade.
It is not known if they would be interested in all or parts of the business.
Decathlon is plotting an aggressive expansion in the UK where it is aiming to reach 100 stores, 50 of which are scheduled to open by 2016. It currently has 12 UK stores.
Acquiring JJB, which operates from 180 stores, would give Decathlon instantaneous scale and has the potential to shake-up the UK sportswear market which is dominated by UK market leader Sports Direct.
As JJB flounders, rival Sports Direct this week reported gross profit up 20.4% to £211.1m in the 13 weeks to July 29 as group sales soared 25.3% to £519m.