Administrators for Sir Philip Green’s Arcadia empire are reported to have speeded up the bidding process in light of Tier 4 restrictions forcing most of its stores to close across the country.
Deloitte is said to have whittled bidders down to five frontrunners and wants bids in by 18 January, according to The Times.
Those in the running include Boohoo Group, which wants to secure the Topshop and Topman brands, Next, in partnership with US investor Davidson Kempner, Frasers Group, Chinese retailer Shein and, possibly, US group Authentic Brands.
It is understood that the Next bid would involve the high street giant running Topshop as a joint venture with Davidson Kempner, and potentially taking on some of the smaller brands itself. Earlier this year Next formed a joint venture with L Brands to run the Victoria’s Secret UK arm, so such a move would not be a first.
Frasers meanwhile is also said to be keen on Topshop but could be willing to take on some of the smaller brands such as Wallis and Dorothy Perkins, particularly if it lands a deal to secure some of the Debenhams business.
Debenhams, which had been in administration since April, began liquidation proceedings on 1 December a day after Arcadia was placed into administration. Arcadia is its largest concessionaire and the two businesses were greatly inter-dependent.
JD Sports had been interesting in acquiring Debenhams but pulled out of talks after Arcadia collapsed.
Just before Christmas the first of the Arcadia brands to be sold – plus size specialist Evans – went to Australia’s City Chic Collective. The deal did not include its stores and concessions however.