Sports Direct looks set to buy 60 stores from stricken rival JJB, safeguarding between 1,000 and 1,500 jobs.
Sources said that the chain, controlled by Newcastle United owner Mike Ashley, will pay about £30 million for the stores and stock, taking control of 20 branches initially. The remaining 40 will be held separately as their purchase will be subject to approval from the Office of Fair Trading.
JJB, which has 180 stores across the UK, currently employs 4,000 people. The Wigan-based chain, founded by David Whelan in 1971, said on Monday that it was set to call in administrators from KPMG after getting offers for parts of the business, but it did not expect to receive a bid for the company as a whole.
Sports Direct declined to comment last night.