An Irish conglomerate has entered the race to take control of up-for-sale retailer JJB Sports.

Dublin-based Stafford Group is among the bidders who are in contention to buy part of all of the embattled retailer, according to Sky News.

Stafford Group, which operates in the energy and shipping industries, also runs Lifestyle Sports, a 60 store Irish chain which it snapped up for €60m in 2005.

Stafford Group faces competition to buy the retailer. KPMG, which is managing the sale of the business, has received “a number” of offers to acquire all or the majority of the business.

Restructuring firm GA Europe is believed to have submitted an offer while private equity firm OpCapita is understood to be interested in all or part of the business.

Sports Direct is among a number of parties interested in taking control of JJB’s most profitable stores, however competition clearance may be needed because of its market leading position. Meanwhile rival JD Sports boss Barry Bown said it was unlikely that it would pick up stores as they have too large a footprint.

Former JJB owner Dave Whelan is also eyeing 30 to 40 stores.