JJB Sports founder Dave Whelan and French sports retailer Decathlon remain in the hunt for former JJB stores after its collapse into administration on Monday.
Sports Direct immediately acquired 20 shops after JJB hit the wall, as well as the JJB and Slazenger brands and stock for £23.8m.
Whelan said that he is still interested in a “handful” of former JJB properties to extend his DW Sports chain while Decathlon is also understood to be interested in picking up stores.
KPMG was appointed administrator on Monday, when it immediately closed 133 stores resulting in 2,200 redundancies.
It had been suggested Sports Direct could acquire 40 further stores, however concerns the Office of Fair Trading may investigate a purchase are understood to have scuppered that deal for now.
Whelan told Retail Week: “Mike Ashley has been in first and got a good deal out of it. He has got what he wanted. I’m still interested in a handful of stores, I do know some of the stores are capable of being profitable.”
He said that he is looking to expand his 68-store DW Sports chain and he is “studying the list” today.
Decathlon is understood to be interested in a number of JJB stores although only a few meet its minimum size requirement of 20,000 sq ft.
The retailer has 12 stores in the UK and will before the end of the year open a JJB store in Southampton it acquired before KPMG was appointed.
Oriel Securities analyst Jonathan Pritchard today suggested JJB’s distribution centre in Wigan will prove a “useful addition to the Sports Direct network” as a fulfilment centre for online orders.
Whelan said: “They will use it as an online distribution centre. It’s perfect, it’s in the middle of the country and Ashley is a shrewd buyer and a good operator.”
Sports Direct said that it has retained all of the staff at the centre and it will be “used within the group”.
KPMG has hired property agent Prime Retail to find buyers for the stores.