Sports Direct has snapped up Evans Cycles in a pre-pack administration deal, which will see it axe half of the retailer’s stores.

The acquisitive sports retailer warded off interest from rival JD Sports and Halfords to win the race for the cycling specialist.

Evans Cycles, which operates a 60-strong UK store estate and has over 1,000 employees, has been on the hunt for new owners and a £10m cash injection since last month.

The struggling retailer has been owned by private equity firm ECI Partners since 2015.

Evans Cycles reportedly attracted interest from several other parties, although Halfords pulled out of rescue talks last week.

Sports Direct, which rescued House of Fraser in a similar £90m pre-pack deal in August, has appointed James Keany at CBRE to oversee all property aspects of the acquisition.

Sports Direct chief executive Mike Ashley said: “We are pleased to have rescued the Evans Cycles brand.

“However, in order to save the business we only believe we will be able to keep 50% of stores open in the future. Unfortunately some stores will have to close.”

Keany added: “We are looking forward to working with landlords in order to help create a sustainable business. We will make contact with landlords over the next few days and discuss the future of individual stores.”