Sports Direct founder Mike Ashley is reportedly looking at a bid for Debenhams’ Ireland business via Irish department store chain Heatons.

The retail mogul is apparently eyeing up the retailer’s struggling Irish arm to strengthen Heatons’ operations, according to The Sunday Business Post.

Sports Direct has a 50% stake in Heatons.

The Irish High Court appointed KPMG Ireland as examiner for Debenhams in May to negotiate with creditors to reduce debt and save jobs.

The process, which began last month, can take up to 100 days and it is not yet known if any stores will close as a result.

Debenhams’ Irish business, which is comprised of 11 stores and employs 1,415 people, reported losses of €6.7m in its last financial year to August 2015.

Sports Direct’s interest in the department store’s Irish operations follows its decision to extend its bet on Debenhams’ UK arm with a 10.5% stake in the business last month.

This is the latest in a string of potential bids from Ashley for struggling retailers in recent months, having bid for Austin Reed and BHS after they entered administration in April.