Evans Cycles, which has stores in Ipswich and Norwich, could close up to half its outlets

An Evans Cycles store Picture: PHILIP TOSCANO/PA WIRE

An Evans Cycles store Picture: PHILIP TOSCANO/PA WIRE - Credit: PA

As many as half of a cycling retail chain’s stores could close, putting hundreds of jobs under threat.

Sports Direct founder Mike Ashley Picture: GIDDENS/PA WIRE

Sports Direct founder Mike Ashley Picture: GIDDENS/PA WIRE - Credit: PA

Sports Direct, the new owner of Evans Cycles - which has 62 stores across the UK including in Ipswich and Norwich - said it needed to stores to save the business.

The chain, which has 62 stores in the UK, currently employs 1,300 staff, had been seeking a buyer when it went into administration on Tuesday. It was immediately sold in a process known as a “pre-pack”.

Sports Direct chief executive Mike Ashley said: “We are pleased to have rescued the Evans Cycles brand. However, in order to save the business we only believe we will be able to keep 50% of stores open in the future. Unfortunately some stores will have to close.”

Landlords of Evans sites will be contacted over the next few days to discuss the future of individual stores.

The acquisition marks the latest expansion of Mr Ashley’s high street empire following the takeover of House of Fraser earlier this year.

It emerged that Evans was eyeing a rescue deal in September, when the retailer held talks with its lenders to seek an urgent capital injection.

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Advisers at PwC were then brought in to oversee a sales process, with Halfords and JD Sports also touted as potential buyers.

Matt Callaghan, joint administrator and PwC partner, said: “2018 has been a very difficult trading year for the business, in part due to the impact of the extended winter weather in the early part of the year and a lack of cash to invest in stores and develop the online platform.

“A combination of losses, the capital expenditure requirements and tightening credit has led to a liquidity crunch.”