A consortium including Austin Reed's lender is circling controversial hire-purchase business Bright House

 
Lucy White
Bright House came under fire for charging high interest rates to vulnerable customers

Once under fire for saddling consumers with debt, it is now the turn of hire-purchase electricals chain Bright House itself to deal with a mounting debt problem.

Private equity giant Apollo Global Management and turnaround firm Alteri Investors are circling the business, which saw a 13.6 per cent drop in revenues over the last financial year.

Apollo and Alteri together own more than a quarter of Bright House's bonds, and City A.M. understands they are working with all stakeholders to keep the business – which has around 3,000 employees – afloat.

This could involve completing a debt-for-equity swap, which would see the two bondholders wrest control of the business from its current owner Vision Capital.

Alteri has taken on and lent to a number of struggling UK retailers in recent years, including Austin Reed, parts of failed footwear chain Brantano, and Jones Bootmaker.

Read more: Private equity groups circle Oasis, Warehouse and Coast

It suffered under the gaze of the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), which began to investigate the business after it came under fire for charging high interest rates to vulnerable customers.

There was good news for Bright House when it announced earlier this year that the FCA was “minded to authorise” the business, subject to a number of conditions being met.

However, compliance with these conditions has proved costly. The business said in its annual report that it had appointed advisors to “evaluate the options available in respect of refinancing the current capital structure”.

Read more: Controversial rent-to-own business Brighthouse edges closer to FCA approval

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