The future of outdoors specialist Blacks Leisure could be secured as early as next week when second-round bids will be submitted.

Blacks has attracted the interest of four trade bidders interested in the entire business, sources familiar with the situation told Retail Week. Offers are expected towards the end of next week.

While shareholders’ equity is expected to be worthless, a deal would secure the future of most of the retailer’s stores and the livelihoods of about 3,500 staff.

Those interested in buying Blacks are understood to include Sports Direct. Retailers including Go Outdoors and Mountain Warehouse are thought to be interested in parcels of stores. Edinburgh Woollen Mill, which also cast its slide-rule over Blacks, is no longer involved in the process, it is understood.

Blacks was in the midst of a turnaround led by new chief executive Julia Reynolds and chairman Peter Williams, but the extent of the retailer’s difficulties and chill trading climate prompted a search for a rescue buyer.