Halfords has reportedly withdrawn from the bidding for Evans Cycles, leaving Mike Ashley’s Sports Direct the frontrunner to take control of the struggling bike retailer.
Private equity firm ECI Partners bought Evans Cycles in 2015 and refinanced the company the following year following a fall in profits. The chain has been lossmaking over the past two years during a period of expansion.
Evans is said to require more than £10m to see it through the next few months of trading and ECI has been inviting bids.
Halfords expressed an interest but Sky News reports that it has now decided to focus on Cycle Republic and Tredz, its existing premium brands.
Earlier this month, JD Sports Fashion and Sports Direct International tabled indicative offers. The latter is thought to be the most likely buyer, although the firm itself has said it is unclear whether a deal will be agreed.
Sports Direct recently rescued House of Fraser from administration and subsequently sacked the department store’s directors and senior management.
It is also a major shareholder in Debenhams and is tipped to launch a takeover if the department store’s financial situation worsens.
The Guardian reports that Debenhams today confirmed plans to shut up to 50 stores.