John Hargreaves and Cafer Mahiroglu are believed to be the front-runners to acquire BHS.
Administrators Duff & Phelps gave a deadline for bids for the fallen franchise that came and went on Tuesday 17. Hargreaves and Mahioglu‘s offer, which is somewhere between £60m and £75m, would be financed separately from the companies they represent.
The Sun reported that the two have a five-year turnaround plan for BHS, with the aim of making it “young and relevant again”. Hargreaves, the founder of Matalan, and Mahiroglu, the owner of Select Fashions, plan to save around 130 BHS stores and half of the former giant‘s 11,000 jobs.
Sports Direct founder Mike Ashley was reportedly outbid for the BHS estate, while the owner of Edinburgh Woollen Mill, Philip Day, has withdrawn from the bidding process. The number of key bidders fell after Duff & Phelps announced that a successful offer would have to cover the entire BHS chain. A mystery European investor is another figure remaining in the race.
A deal is expected to be announced early next week. While staff are hoping the new owner will save the BHS brand and estate, the Daily Telegraph reported that Duff & Phelps are meeting with Gordon Brothers, Hilco Capital and Alteri Investors to gauge the value of the business, should it be sold in smaller packages instead.
The investigation into the sale and management of BHS prior to its collapse remains ongoing.