Mike Ashley may more than double the size of his Sports Direct retail empire in Britain by 2011, and to open sizeable chains in Asia and Europe or the US, if he pushes ahead with a £2bn flotation. A decision on whether to float the business, in which Ashley would retain a 50 per cent stake, is due to be taken this week and follows a series of road shows to assess institutional demand.

The scale of his ambition to grow the company is revealed in IPO research produced by banks working on the float. Ashley is thought to want to open 600 Sports World stores in the UK, almost doubling the estate. He further plans to increase the size of his Original Shoe Co from 54 stores to 250, and open a chain of 25 Lilly-whites stores, according to the documents.

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