The Scottish clothing group Edinburgh Woollen Mill is among the retailers that will today submit bids to acquire Blacks Leisure, the troubled outdoor specialist.
Mountain Warehouse, Go Outdoors and Cotswold Outdoor also plan to make first-round offers for Blacks Leisure, which has debts of £36m.
Edinburgh Woollen Mill, which has more than 500 stores, has a record of acquiring distressed retailers, and bought the young fashion chain Jane Norman out of administration inthe summer.
Blacks Leisure, which has 98 Blacks outlets and 208 Millets, will also almost certainly have to be rescued through a pre-packaged administration. Potential trade buyers plan to use this insolvency procedure to ditch unprofitable stores and slash Blacks' £26m central overhead costs, which comprise its staff, head office and warehouse in Northampton. Sports Direct, which owns 22.5 per cent of Blacks, is also still interested in parts of the group. All parties declined to comment.