Sports and outdoor specialists including Sports Direct, Go Outdoors and Mountain Warehouse are lining up to takeover up-for-sale retailer Blacks Leisure.

The retailer, which put itself on the market last week after it failed to gain support for its latest fundraising from shareholders and new investors, has confirmed that Sports Direct, “amongst a number of others”, have expressed an interest in buying it.

Go Outdoors, Mountain Warehouse and private equity firm Lion Capital, which owns rival outdoor chain Cotswold Outdoor, are also understood to be interested in joining the race to buy Blacks according to the newspaper.

First round bids for Blacks are due in before Christmas. Blacks ideally wants to complete a sale before the end of January. KPMG is advising the retailer on the sale.

Blacks like-for-likes plummeted 7.2% in its first half to August 27 and, when its revealed its interims in October, the retailer said they had plunged by 14.2% since the end of the period.

The outdoor specialist, which has debts of £36m, reported that losses before tax had widened from £7.2m to £16m in its first half.