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Billionaire Mike Ashley has announced a deal to buy Evans Cycles which will see half of the bike chain’s shops close, resulting in hundreds of job losses.

The struggling firm was placed into administration before being sold to Sports Direct International.

Mr Ashley, who founded Sports Direct, said: “In order to save the business, we only believe we will be able to keep 50% of stores open in the future.”

Evans, which is nearly 100 years old, has 62 shops and employs 1,300 people.

It emerged last month that the retailer was seeking a rescue deal, with accountancy firm PwC brought in as advisers.

Matt Callaghan, joint administrator and a partner at PwC, said it had been a very difficult year for Evans following the cold snap at the start of 2018 and a lack of cash to invest in stores and online.

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

Evans is the second retailer that Mr Ashley’s firm has rescued in as many months. In August, Sports Direct paid £90m to buy House of Fraser shortly after the department store chain entered administration.

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