The North Face owner VF Corporation has bought a 5% stake in Blacks Leisure in a move that seems to be designed to block any future bid by rival Sports Direct.

The clothing giant – which also owns Wrangler, Lee Jeans and Vans – has acquired warrants from banks involved in the recent refinancing of Blacks Leisure that will, when exercised, give it a 5% stake in the retailer, according to the Daily Telegraph.

Sports Direct – the largest shareholder in Blacks Leisure with a 28.5% stake – walked away from making a bid for Blacks Leisure earlier this month. Boss Mike Ashley first tried to buy Blacks in March last year, and is now barred from making a new offer until September.

Blacks Leisure suppliers had reportedly threatened to boycott the outdoor retailer if Ashley took control of the chain.

A spokesman for VF Corporation told the paper: “This investment was made in support of Blacks’ continuing restructuring efforts and strong internal management. VF has no plans to further increase its ownership position in Blacks Leisure and looks forward to continuing as one of Blacks’ many suppliers.”