Peacocks, the value chain, has confirmed that it has appointed former Asda chief executive Allan Leighton as chairman.

Leighton’s appointment, as revealed by Retail Week, will prompt further speculation that he will lead a flotation or sale of the 700 store business.

Leighton, along with then Asda chairman Archie Norman, led the sale of Asda to US giant Walmart in 1999, and is deputy chairman of luxury department store business Selfridges. He was also chairman of department store chain Bhs following its takeover by tycoon Sir Philip Green in 2000.

Peacocks is part of Peacock Group, which also owns mainstream womenswear chain Bonmarché, which is up for sale. Last year Peacocks, attempted to sell the whole business for a price tag thought to be £600m, but no sale resulted.

Peacock Group was taken private in 2006 by chief executive Richard Kirk, who owns 30% of the business, and is backed by US hedge funds Och-Ziff and Perry Capital.

Kirk said: “Allan’s vast experience will be invaluable as we take Peacocks to the next stage; building on our continuing success in the UK and developing our successful international franchise. We are delighted to welcome him into our team.”

Leighton, who is also a former chairman of Royal Mail and remains chairman of privately owned jeweller Pandora and a non-executive director of broadcaster BSkyB, said: “Peacocks is a great success story that gives its customers fantastic fashion at unbeatable prices. There are many great opportunities to develop the business and I am excited to be now working with the Peacocks team on this.”