James Bidwell, strategic projects director at Selfridges owner Wittington Fashion Retail Group, is on the hunt for brand acquisition deals worth between £2 million and £10 million.

He declined to comment, but a Selfridges spokeswoman said news of acquisitions would probably be revealed in the New Year. She added that they would not be property-related.

Wittington Investments set up Wittington Fashion Retail Group to oversee Selfridges in the UK, Brown Thomas in the Republic of Ireland and Holt Renfrew in Canada.

Industry observers suggest Bidwell would aim to acquire fashion, footwear, lingerie, accessories and cosmetics brands to bring in-house, either as exclusives or to develop own-label categories.

Retail Knowledge Bank research director Robert Clark said: 'It would be a significant departure for the group to invest in brands. For that modest amount he is probably looking at individual designers or perhaps Italian or French brands.'

A source close to Selfridges said: 'The Weston family are very acquisitive and are always looking for new opportunities. They obviously hope to use the fashion group to develop new interests.'