Reliance Retail, which is owned by India’s richest man Mukesh Ambani, is reportedly considering a bid for part or all of Debenhams.

Reliance Retail, which acquired British toy chain Hamleys last year, is among a small number of suitors in discussions with Debenhams’ advisors about launching a formal bid for part or all of the department store group.

According to Sky News, sources said that while there was no certainty that Reliance’s interest in Debenhams would develop into a formal bid, the firm’s interest in the chain was serious.

An auction for the struggling department store retailer has been ongoing for several weeks, with investment bank Lazard coordinating discussions with prospective buyers.

Reliance owner Mukesh Ambani is widely regarded as one of Asia’s richest men, having amassed a fortune exceeding $64bn (£49bn) across a variety of conglomerates spanning petrochemicals, textiles and technology as well as retail.

Debenhams was understood to be aiming to secure a buyer for part or all of the business by the end of this month, but improved trading in recent weeks has reduced the urgency of this timeline.

It is likely that if Reliance was to put forward a formal bid for Debenham it would only be for part of the business, rather than the whole operation.