Retail rivals JD Sports’ Peter Cowgill and Sports Direct’s Mike Ashley are among the prospective bidders for footwear chain Office.

It is understood that JD Sports and Sports Direct are two of at least four bidders who have expressed interest in buying footwear retailer Office, according to Sky News.

Office is seeking fresh funding to weather the coronavirus crisis, and its current owner Truworths International is also understood to be mulling a pre-pack administration in order to retake control of parts of the business.

The rival prospective bids come shortly after JD Sports and Sports Direct clashed over the former’s ambitions to acquire struggling footwear chain Footasylum.

When the Competition and Markets Authority blocked JD Sports’ acquisition of Footasylum last week, JD Sports slammed the verdict on that as being “heavily influenced by a snapshot customer survey and the picture presented by a self-interested third party”.

The sale of Office, which is being handled by professional services firm Alvarez & Marsal, is likely to conclude this month.

It is not clear whether Ashley’s interest in the firm is being expressed through Frasers Group or his private investment vehicles.

A source close to JD Sports told Sky News that other bidders were likely to be pursuing the acquisition of Office more aggressively than it would.