Evans Cycles has put itself up for sale and is seeking fresh funding to secure its future.
The bike shop is understood to have appointed PwC to manage the sale.
Evans, which operates 60 stores, needs to find £20m to fund a rescue plan and its current backers and bankers are understood to provide the extra cash.
The bikes retailer is thought to have been hit by tough trading conditions on the high street.
PwC is understood to have contacted potential bidders and asked for bids on the table by the end of next week.
A number of private equity firms, retailers and turnaround investors have been approached to buy Evans, according to people close to the process.
The company is owned by the private equity firm ECI Partners, which is not expected to be part of any rescue deal.
The decision to hunt for a buyer was prompted when ECI Partners, which bought Evans three years ago, and the retailers’ lenders AIB and HSBC failed to agree on a cash injection.
Evans has been loss-making since 2016. In the year to October 2017, sales rose nearly 2% to £138m but it made a £2.5m loss.