Sports Direct owner Mike Ashley says only 50 per cent of stores will stay open

Struggling high street chain Evans Cycles has been bought by Sports Direct, with half of the shops expected to be closed.

Billionaire owner of the sportswear shop Mike Ashley will take control of struggling Evans.

The chain of bike shops, which is over 100 years old, has 60 branches and employs more than 1,000 people, had asked for a £10million cash injection to stay afloat.

Mr Ashley, who also owns Newcastle United football club, 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 per cent of stores open in future.

“Unfortunately some stores will have to close.”

Previous owners – the private equity firm ECI Partners – bought Evans Cycles from Active Private Equity in 2015.

Last month Evans announced it was looking for £10million investment, with Halfords named as one of the companies interested.

But Halfords pulled out, before the Sports Direct deal was announced on Tuesday afternoon.

James Keany from commercial property advisors to Sports Direct, CBRE, said: “We are looking forward to working with landlords in order to help create a sustainable business.

“We will make contact with landlords over the next few days and discuss the future of individual stores.”

Sports Direct has also recently bought struggling high street department store House of Fraser.

Evans has been bought in a pre-pack deal, which means the agreement was reached before the company went into administration.

Partner and joint administrator for Evans, Matt Callaghan from PwC, 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.”