Nevisport, the Fort William-based outdoor retailer, has called in receivers and closed five of its 12 stores across the UK.

91 people’s jobs are uncertain as liquidators search for buyers for the company. Only the firm’s shops in Fort William, Edinburgh, Aberdeen and Aviemore, Middlesbrough and York remain open, along with the Nevis Range outlet at Aonach Mor.

Among potential buyers for the ailing outfit are Mike Ashley’s Sports Direct, which has been increasingly investing in outdoor retailing over the last year. Mr Ashley has courted controversy and is notoriously secretive. Sports Direct has had a troubled recent few months as relationships with financial institutions were strained over its reporting procedures.

Sports Direct has holdings in Field & Trek and Blacks and owns the Karrimor brand. Mike Ashley is the owner of Newcastle United FC.

Nevisport was founded in Fort William in 1970 by Lochaber Mountain Rescue Team members Ian Sykes and Ian Sutherland, who ran the business from a converted dairy in the town. The mountaineers expanded their empire to become one of the best known outdoor retailers in Scotland and northern England. The pair sold out three years ago in a management buyout.

The decline in the firm’s fortunes are being put down to increased competition and unseasonable weather.

Blair Nimmo of KPMG, which is handling the company’s affairs, said: “Our immediate priority is to ensure that the business continues to trade with the support of the employees as we seek a buyer for all or parts of the business as a going concern.”

Nevisport’s café, at the end of Fort William’s main street, is a renowned gathering place for walkers and climbers, famous as a breakfast fuel stop before tackling winter and summer routes on Ben Nevis and Lochaber’s other peaks.