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Private equity firms eye Peacocks

A host of private equity firms are circling collapsed fashion retailer Peacocks.

KKR, Permira, Sun European, Cinven and OpCapita are all reported to be preparing bids for the chain which fell into administration last week. Retailer Edinburgh Woollen Mill, which snapped up Jane Norman last year, is also understood to be interested in some or all of the retailer.

Administrator KPMG is to open a “data room” for potential bidders today, letting them look over the company’s finances ahead of the deadline for first-round bids on January 30, according to The Sunday Times.

To date, about 50 interested parties have come forward, but KPMG is understood to be focusing on 10 “serious” bidders, according to The Daily Telegraph.

Sun European is expected to acquire Bonmarché, the Peacock Group-owned retailer, which caters for the older shopper, via a separate pre-pack administration deal today.  

Drapers learned last week that up to half of Bonmarché stores are likely to closed or be offloaded as part of the deal.

The private equity firm, which is understood to be paying less than £10m for Bonmarché, has been on a buying spree of late snapping up fellow mature retailers Jacques Vert and Alexon last year. It is thought to be interested in buying Peacocks out of administration too.

If a deal to rescue Peacocks, which has 563 stores and employees 9,600 staff, does not go ahead, supermarket giant Tesco is thought to be interested in taking on a chunk of its stores as it looks to expand its Express format.

Blue Inc, Poundland and Select are also understood to be interested in some stores.

Peacocks collapsed into administration last week, weighed down by its debt. Desperate attempts to put together a rescue deal, led by chief executive Richard Kirk, failed to secure its future. It is thought that Kirk will now not bid for the value fashion retailer.

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