SPORTS giant Adidas is preparing to sell its Reebok brand after 15 years of ownership.

Founded in Bolton in 1958 by brothers Joe and Jeff Foster, Reebok can trace its roots even further back to shoemakers JW Foster which began trading in the town in 1900.

Now based in Boston, Massachusetts, Reebok was bought by Adidas in 2006 for €3.1bn as part of its efforts to take on Nike.

But despite the continued enthusiasm for leisure wear, the brand has struggled to establish itself in the US market and is expected to be sold for far less than Adidas bought it for.

Last November, Adidas said Reebok sales fell 20% in the nine months to September 30.

The decision comes following the development of a new five year strategy for Adidas which now "intends to focus its efforts on further strengthening the leading position of the Adidas brand in the global sporting goods market."

“The long-term growth opportunities in our industry are highly attractive, particularly for iconic sports brands,” said Adidas CEO Kasper Rorsted. “After careful consideration, we have come to the conclusion that Reebok and Adidas will be able to significantly better realize their growth potential independently of each other. We will work diligently in the coming months to ensure a successful future for the Reebok brand and the team behind it.”

Potential buyers are rumoured to be VF Corporation, the owner of North Face and Timberland; Anta Sports, the Chinese sportswear firm; and Authentic Brands, the owner of Forever 21, Nine West and Juicy Couture.