The two private equity firms understood to have made an unsolicited approach for value group Peacocks are believed to be Bain Capital and Blackstone.

According to reports the two private equity houses have each offered about £500m for the value group, which also includes discount chain Bonmarche.

This is below Peacocks’ asking price which is understood to have been £600m when it underwent a formal sale process which was pulled at the beginning of this month.

There is no certainty that either Bain or Blackstone will seal the deal, and it is understood that no formal sale process is in place, but a buyer is likely to want to conclude the bid ahead of the VAT rise on January 4.

Peacocks is owned by hedge funds Och-Ziff and Perry Capital and chief executive Richard Kirk has a 30% stake in the group.