AILING retailer JJB Sports today confirmed it was holding talks after receiving offers from “a number” of potential suitors as it seeks to secure the future of the firm.
But the Wigan-based group, which employs 4,000 staff, reiterated its warning that shareholders - who include the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation - were likely to see their stakes wiped out under any rescue deal.
The 180-strong chain put itself up for sale at the end of last month after failing to secure the funds needed to overhaul its stores.
News of interest from various bidders raises hopes that it may be able to strike a deal and stave off administration.
There had been fears that a sale process might fail after reports earlier this week suggested one of the frontrunners to buy the struggling retailer had not submitted a bid, sending shares slumping further and leaving JJB valued at less than £1 million.
Private equity firm Better Capital, founded by venture capitalist Jon Moulton, did not submit a bid by the Friday deadline, according to the Financial Times.
JJB founder Dave Whelan also reportedly said he would not make an offer for the retailer, but would instead look to pick up individual stores if JJB was bought or fell into administration.
Other companies interested in the business are thought to include private investment firm OpCapita and French sporting goods retailer Decathlon.
Turnaround-focused Better Capital, which was set up by Mr Moulton in 2009 after he left private equity firm Alchemy Partners, bought its first high street name earlier this year when it acquired a majority stake in British fashion chain Jaeger.
JJB secured its most recent lifeline just four months ago when it landed £20 million from US retailer Dick’s Sporting Goods and a further £10 million from existing shareholders.
It earmarked £20 million of the most recent funding on converting 60 of its most important stores in 2012 and 2013 into a new format that during trials produced much-improved sales and margins.
But it admitted last month that continued poor trading meant it would need additional funds for the programme sooner than it had expected.