There have been more than a few cross words exchanged at Moss Bros this week.
But, while warring stakeholders bandy words about who should win control of the menswear retailer, they are losing sight of the real loser in the battle.
While each side argues that it has the best interests of the menswear chain at heart, it is the retailer that is left bemused and languishing without sufficient investment and momentum to take it forward.
After announcing another profit warning, the retailer revealed this week that it was opening its books to Baugur before opening up to the market its thoughts on the 42p-a-share indicative offer.
The founding Moss and Gee families argue that the majority stakeholder Baugur’s£40 million offer values the 150-store retailer based on inadequate management and accuses it of underinvestment in the brands that are key to its survival in a challenging environment.
Baugur replies that the families, which control 27 per cent to Baugur’s 29 per cent, have been key in failing to inject any energy into the 150-year-old business and are preventing the Icelandic raider from doing what it does best in the private sphere – driving the business forward with store openings, refurbishments and opportunities for the brands.
Reports abound of rebel shareholders seeking alliances with aggrieved interested parties to launch a counterbid. Laura Ashley, which has a 5.4 per cent stake in the business, has been approached by a key shareholder who controls 4 per cent.
It is also understood that the same shareholder has approached the two families and that, all together, they could create a combined force of more than 30 per cent, which could topple Baugur’s approach.
Some shareholders are hoping John Hanson of Greenwoods suit hire, who has a 1.5 per cent stake in the business, will make a counter offer, driving up the price of the bid.
Whether they wield any serious clout remains to be seen, but, more significantly, every day that the undignified rumpus is splashed across the newspapers is another day that consumers will see 60 per cent off discount signs in windows.
It is understood that Baugur would not be averse to the idea of working with the families to resolve the conflict, perhaps in the form of some kind of stub equity.
However, when the Icelandic raider made an earlier bid for the business a little over a year ago, valuing it at twice the present price per share, it made irrevocable support from the family a condition of the bid. However, no such demand has been made, showing Baugur is taking a less conciliatory approach this time round.
The lower price of the present offer shows just how far the fortunes of the business have deteriorated.
And, while the squabble continues, this trend is unlikely to change.