Arcadia may be sold by billionaire owner Sir Philip Green, bringing to a close the tycoon’s retail career.
Green plans to sell all or part of the fashion group and is understood to be in talks with Chinese textiles business Shandong Ruyi, The Sunday Times reported.
However, Arcadia has hit out at the reports, insisting they were “totally false” and said the group was “not in discussions with any party regarding a partial or total disposal.”
Any potential deal could also be complicated by MPs, who would be likely to scrutinise any impact on Arcadia’s pension schemes.
A sale of Arcadia, which has 2,800 shops globally and and owns fascias such as Topshop, Burton and Miss Selfridge, would be a pivotal moment for Green, who bought the business in 2002, and for UK retail.
Flagship business Topshop is understood to have suffered difficult trading as online rivals such as Asos and boohoo have grown. Green is thought to have been courting potential buyers of Arcadia for some time.
Shandong Ruyi, which grew from a woollen mill in northern China in the 1970s, has put various western businesses in its corporate shopping trolley.
It has acquired controlling stakes in French luxury brands as well as famous British names such as Aquascutum and Gieves & Hawkes.
However, news that Green might sell Arcadia prompted warnings that he would face questions about Arcadia’s two pension schemes, which have between them a deficit of about £1bn on a ‘buyout’ basis.
The collapse in 2016 of department store group BHS after Green sold it for £1 resulted in an investigation by Parliament’s Work and Pensions Committee, during which the tycoon was strongly criticised over pension responsibilities.
Green eventually made a voluntary payment of up to £363m to end the controversy.
However, following news of the potential sale of Arcadia, MP Frank Field, who led the BHS inquiry, told the BBC that the committee would now “look at the state of Sir Philip Green’s pensions schemes and whether he can sell to whomever he wants without having some very important questions or putting in some money into the whole Arcadia pension pot”.