Former Somerfield chief executive Paul Mason has cast his slide rule over troubled off-licence chain Threshers, it is understood.

The drinks retailer, part of First Quench - which is controlled by private equity group Vision Capital - has been hit by competition from grocers and the cost of doing business on the high street.

Mason, who won praise for his improvement of Somerfield, is assessing whether he might work a similar transformation at Threshers, industry sources said - potentially in partnership with former Somerfield colleague John Cleland.

Mason stood down from Somerfield following the grocer’s £1.57bn sale to Co-operative Group earlier this year - one of the few successful private equity exits during the credit crunch.

He refocused Somerfield as a convenience retailer and offloaded underperforming stores, including the Kwik Save business. Sources said a similar approach might be taken with Threshers.

Last week it emerged that First Quench’s Companies House accounts flagged a “material uncertainty that casts significant doubt upon the group’s ability to continue as a going concern”. The retailer maintained that it is progressing with a turnaround plan and addressing commercial and operational issues.

Mason, who is chairman of the upmarket accessories brand Radley, backed by private equity firm Exponent, downplayed the speculation that he is interested in Threshers.
He said: “My main focus is Radley. I’ve got no immediate plans to buy any business.”

A Vision Capital spokesman said that it is not actively seeking a sale and has not received any unsolicited offers.