EDINBURGH Woollen Mill, the retail group run by the billionaire Philip Day, has emerged as the front runner to acquire struggling high street chain Jaeger.
It is understood that Day’s outfit, which owns an array of high street brands, is slugging it out with a group of bidders also thought to include Mike Ashley’s Sports Direct and Jaeger’s former owner Harold Tillman.
Sources close to the deal believe that Edinburgh Woollen Mill is in pole position to buy the group from its current owner, the private equity firm Better Capital.
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“Edinburgh Woollen Mill has a history of buying troubled retailers and turning them around, and it’s one of the more credible bidders for Jaeger,” one source said.
Day’s group has snaffled Jane Norman, Peacocks and Austin Reed out of administration over the past few years.
Jaeger is valued at £30 million by Better Capital, which is headed up by private equity baron Jon Moulton.
Better Capital acquired Jaeger for £19.5 million in 2012, but the firm has struggled under difficult conditions for high street fashion retailers.
Last year the firm said that total annual sales fell from £84.2 million to £78.4 million, while it booked a pre-tax loss of £5.4 million, according to accounts filed at Companies House.
Better Capital has enlisted the services of AlixPartners to sound out potential buyers.
Jaeger, which has around 25 standalone stores, was founded in 1884 by businessman Lewis Tomalin.