Topshop boss Sir Philip Green is reportedly planning to sell all or part of his Arcadia Group empire.
The Sunday Times reported yesterday that Green is thought to be seeking an exit from the group as its brands, which include Dorothy Perkins and Miss Selfridge, struggle to compete with online players such as Asos and Boohoo.
A deal could potentially spell the end of Green’s colourful 50-year high street career. The 65-year-old billionaire’s activities have been closely scrutinised since he sold BHS to former bankrupt Dominic Chappell for £1 in 2015.
Arcadia has 2,800 stores and 26,000 employees globally.
The Sunday Times also claimed that acquisitive Chinese textiles giant Shandong Ruyi, which is based in Jining in northern China, has held discussions and looked at the books at Arcadia, however a spokesman for Shandong Ruyi denied that discussions were under way.
The textiles conglomerate has been on an acquisitive streak in recent months.
Its purchases so far include controlling stakes in French luxury group SMCP, which includes Sandro and Maje; Lycra producer Invista; menswear supplier Bagir; British brand Aquascutum; and menswear group Trinity, which includes Gieves & Hawkes and Kent & Curwen.
Earlier this month it bought a majority share in Swiss luxury brand Bally.
Arcadia’s two pension funds had a combined deficit of almost £1bn in March 2016 on a buyout basis, factoring in the cost of securing benefits with an insurer,The Sunday Times reported.
It was not clear whether Topshop or Topman would be included in any sale process.
Green sold a 25% stake in the two brands to US private equity firm Leonard Green in 2012. The shareholder agreement allowed either side to trigger a sale or float of the business after five years. The lock-in period ended in December.
Drapers has ed Arcadia Group for comment.