Wednesday, September 19 12:24:48
The owner of Ireland's biggest sports retailer has entered the race as a contender to buy all or part of Britain's ailing JJB Sports, which is up for sale.
Stafford Group, which bought Lifestyle Sports, the owner of 62 stores across Ireland, in 2005 for E60 million, is among about half a dozen bidders left in contention, according to reports in the British online press.
Dublin-based Stafford Group is a family-owned private company with 950 staff and a turnover of E500 million euro, which operates in the energy and shipping sectors, as well as sports retail.
Mike Ashley, the founder of Sports Direct International and owner of Newcastle United FC, is reportedly the frontrunner to buy JJB, while restructuring specialists GA Europe and Hilco and US retailer Dick's Sporting Goods have also lodged interest.
Sports World parent Sports Direct is believed to be close to arranging to buy the most profitable stores from JJB under a controversial "pre-pack" administration. The deal would reportedly see more than half of JJB's 180 stores closed and put hundreds of jobs at risk.
But it is likely the Office of Fair Trading will launch an investigation into any attempt by Sports Direct to buy JJB due to competition issues.