Authentic Brands, the US retail giant which owns the historic New York department store brand Barneys, is plotting an audacious double swoop for collapsed Arcadia Group and Debenhams.
The firm is said to be in talks this weekend with the administrators of the two companies, the Telegraph reported. The American powerhouse which was founded by Canadian Jamie Salter in 2010, was lining up bids for both brands, the newspaper said.
While both Sir Philip Green’s Arcadia and Debenhams are still trading, 27,000 jobs are at risk over the festive season if a rescue deal cannot be agreed.
However, any bid would pit Authentic Brands against Sports Direct owner Mike Ashley who has held discussions with Debenhams.
Frasers Group (FRAS.L), the high street billionaire’s business, last week confirmed in a statement that it was in talks with Debenhams’ administrators about a possible rescue bid for the department store’s UK operations.
The group, which owns House of Frasers and Sports Direct, owned around 30% of Debenhams before it collapsed into administration in April. It spent £150m ($198m) building a stake in the struggling department store.
Ashley’s group is also interested in participating in the sale of collapsed Arcadia Group, although a previous bid had been rejected, by rival Green’s Arcadia.
Authentic Brands, which is backed by heavyweight financiers including Blackrock and Leonard Green & Partners, was on course to book turnover of $15bn (£11.3bn) before the coronavirus crisis.
The firm’s financial heft could make it a good contender for taking over stricken Debenhams and Arcadia, which owns high street favourites Topshop, Topman, Dorothy Perkins and Burton.
Yahoo Finance has reached out to the companies for comment.
COVID-19 has seen many companies buckle under the pressure, especially as many high street brands were already struggling pre-pandemic.
Authentic Brands has previously seized opportunities to expand its portfolio. It snapped up a number of struggling brands such as Brooks Brothers, which collapsed this year due to the pandemic and fast-fashion retailer Forever 21.
Debenhams first collapsed into administration in April. Administrators had been trying to find a buyer for the 242-year-old business but earlier in December said they had exhausted all avenues without success. The department store is in the process of being wound down, with 12,000 jobs at risk.
Green’s Arcadia Group went bust late in November with more than 13,000 jobs on the line.
Watch: Mike Ashley’s Frasers Group in talks over ‘potential rescue’ for Debenhams