The billionaire owner of Edinburgh Woollen Mill, Philip Day, has weighed in on House of Fraser’s precarious future with a potential bid.
The retail tycoon could be about to throw the struggling department store chain a lifeline following confirmation that China’s C.Banner, owner of Hamley’s, had pulled out of a £70m rescue deal.
According to sources close to the matter, Day is in current talks with the retailer, discussions that could see him enter a potential takeover battle with Sports Direct’s Mike Ashley, who is reportedly also keen to strike a deal.
The sportswear specialist founder already owns 11 per cent of House of Fraser and has approached the department store chain with what he considers ‘better terms,’ than those of C.Banner. Discussions are at an early stage.
Meanwhile, House of Fraser said it was in talks with alternative lenders and investors as it scrambles to secure a cash injection, while investment bank Rothschild is advising the chain on the sale process.
If a new backer cannot be found, as many as 17,000 jobs could be at risk through 6,000 House of Fraser staff and around 11,000 concession workers.
The chain had been relying on the planned C.Banner funding to stay afloat into the Christmas trading period and C.Banner had intended to raise the money via a placing on the Hong Kong stock exchange. It was forced to abandon the plan after a severe fall in its share price in recent weeks.
The cash call had been ‘rendered impractical and inadvisable.’