Republic founder Carl Brewins is understood to be interested in buying back the business he started as a market stall nearly thirty years ago as private equity firms circle the collapsed chain.

It is understood that Brewins, who left Republic last year, is considering pairing up with a private equity backer to revive the retailer, which plunged into administration yesterday.

Meanwhile, it is thought that private equity firms including Better Capital and Apollo, which last year bought jeweller Aurum, are interested in snapping up the 121-store retailer.

An unidentified US retailer has also emerged as a potential bidder to give it a UK presence. It is thought to be eyeing around 40 of Republic’s stores.

Young fashion retailer Blue Inc is also vying to buy Republic, although it is thought it will operate it as a 50-store chain.

Blue Inc, chaired by former Marks & Spencer executive chairman Sir Stuart Rose, has a strong track record of turning around collapsed businesses. It bought bust menswear retailer Officer’s Club’s brand in March 2011 and 46 of its stores and has since built the business up to more than 60 shops.

Republic, backed by private equity firm TPG, crashed into administration yesterday with Ernst & Young appointed as administrator.

Ernst & Young has already axed 150 head office staff. Republic employs 2,500 staff.