As many as 12 bidders are understood to have put in offers for Adams Kids owner Myriad Childrenswear Group, with a decision due to be made within days.
Drapers has learned that potential buyers include Far East kidswear manufacturer EMA Textiles, which already supplies kidswear to Adams, restructuring specialist Hilco UK and US-based kidswear company Carter's.
Private equity company Bridgepoint Capital, which owns about 60% of Myriad, put the group on the market last month and appointed PricewaterhouseCoopers to handle the sale.
Bridgepoint Capital and minority stakeholder Lloyds TSB are understood to be looking for a £50 million deal, but industry sources dismissed this price as "way above the odds."
A source close to the deal said the majority of bids had come from private equity firms, with some interest from overseas manufacturers. Myriad's management is also understood to be interested in an MBO. A decision is expected to be reached on Friday.
EMA Textiles, which has offices in London, Bangladesh and Hong Kong and sources from China, India, Sri Lanka and Indonesia, is understood to see Adams' property portfolio as a route into the UK kidswear market. But the firm's London-based managing director Eric Abraham refused to comment.
Although the Myriad property portfolio - which comprises 330 Adams stores averaging 1,000 sq ft - was seen by some as cumbersome, it is understood that Hilco would not split up the company's manufacturing, brand licensing and retail assets if it were the winning bidder.
It is thought the restructuring specialist would choose to retain the Adams fascia, rather than face the expense of rebranding the chain.
Icelandic investor Baugur is believed to have shown an interest in the company, but decided against making an offer. A source close to the group said: "We're not going after it at all."
Verdict Research, which was due to publish its kidswear report this week as Drapers went to press, said the £4.4 billion kidswear market continued to underperform, with growth of just 1.9% in 2006.
Womenswear retailers and supermarkets have consolidated their positions as preferred channels for kidswear retail, taking a combined 64.4% slice of the market.
- See news analysis on page 10 for more on the Myriad sale and the state of the kidswear market.