HMV owner Hilco Capital and Poundstretcher have joined the race to rescue beleaguered department store chain BHS after lodging firm bids.
News of both offers emerged last night ahead of yesterday’s deadline for binding offers.
Restructuring specialist Hilco has sometimes polarised retail opinion, with previous involvement in businesses including Woolworths and Borders.
Discount chain Poundstretcher also emerged as a surprise frontrunner, as five standout bidders reportedly remained in the frame this morning.
Crown Crest, Poundstretcher’s parent company which is owned by Aziz Tayub, tabled an offer to save the embattled 88-year-old chain, according to The Telegraph.
Cash-and-carry tycoon Tayub is understood to be worth several hundred million pounds.
Revelations that the pair of suitors have entered the fight to acquire BHS bring the number of firm bidders to at least five.
They are competing with a consortium fronted by Matalan founder John Hargreaves and Select Fashions owner Cafer Mahiroglu, Edinburgh Woollen Mill owner Philip Day and Gordon Brothers.
Sports Direct tycoon Mike Ashley was also in the running after previously voicing his desire to revive the chain and save 11,000 jobs, but it is understood that he has been outbid by other contenders.
Administrators Duff & Phelps previously said that it would only accept bids for the entire BHS business, including its 164 stores, the brand and its debts.
As revealed by Retail Week, BHS collapsed into administration last month with a pension deficit of £571m, just over a year after former owner Sir Philip Green sold the retailer to Retail Acquisitions for a nominal £1.
The department store chain’s demise is being probed by MPs and the Insolvency Service, with a number of parties being dragged into the probes.
Among those being held to account by Parliament will be a host of top City accountants.
A total of 29 witnesses will be questioned across a series of parliamentary sessions that kick-off on Monday, according to The Times, including senior representatives from PwC, Deloitte, KPMG, Goldman Sachs and Olswang.
Twelve of those witnesses are poised to give evidence in three panels on Monday, with 10 more following on Wednesday.
Bosses from BHS and Retail Acquisitions, including three-time bankrupt Dominic Chappell who fronted the consortium, are due to appear during the second week of June.
Green will give evidence to MPs the following week, on June 15.
The Work and Pensions select committee and the Business, Innovation and Skills committee are leading the enquiries, fronted by Labour MP and chairman Frank Field.
Field, who has become embroiled in a war of words with Green over his role in BHS’s collapse, has also written to the head of the Pensions Regulator, Lesley Titcomb, to ask for clarification of its handling of the retailer’s situation.
Titcomb has been asked to respond to reports that the regulator blocked a restructuring of BHS two years ago, which then-owner Green labelled ‘Project Thor’.
The plan was said to include Green pumping £80m of his own cash into the department store chain.