Hilco, the company behind the rescue of HMV, has launched a bid to buy struggling Irish sports chain Elverys and its 56 stores.

There are now six parties interested in Elverys, according to the Irish Independent. The retailer employs 650 people and has 56 stores across Ireland.

It is understood that the remaining bidders include Hilco, which specialises in turning around struggling retailers, although it faces competition from Mike Ashley’s Sports Direct group and a group led by Elverys managing director Patrick Rowland.

A preferred bidder is expected to be selected in the next two weeks, although any rescue deal will have to be approved by the High Court.

An examiner was appointed to Elverys on February 4 after a planned €10m (£8.3m) sale to Patrick Rowland and his management group fell through.

If Hilco is successful it will be the company’s second Irish purchase of recent months after it bought Irish DVD rental chain Xtravision out of receivership in June last year in a bid to save 130 stores.