South African group Foschini has thrown its hat into the ring to buy Hobbs, the womenswear brand beloved by the Duchess of Cambridge.
Hobbs was put on the market by its private equity owner 3i in January for £80m. However, it is thought Foschini is unwilling to stump up the full asking price, the Sunday Times reported.
Several private equity firms have also expressed an interest in snapping up Hobbs, which made £104.4m in sales last year and turned a profit of £1.4m. Investment bank Rothschild is handling the sale.
Hobbs would add to a handful of middle-market retailers recently acquired by Foschini. Two years ago, the business bought Phase Eight, and in March last year, it bagged Whistles.
In 2015 Hobbs conducted a strategic review after its pre-tax loss climbed to £15.6m. The firm has since returned to financial health, and has said it is considering expanding in the US. Currently, it sells its products through Bloomingdale's in America.