Jewellery group Aurum, which owns chains including Goldsmiths and Mappin & Webb, is expected to pick a preferred bidder for its 165-store business by mid-summer.
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A source close to the deal said a handful of potential buyers had been shortlisted, including both retailers and private equity firms, and it is likely a preferred bidder will emerge soon.
The source said that the current management team - led by chief executive Justin Stead - would remain a key part of future plans for the business, which could include a private equity-backed management buyout.
Aurum was put up for sale in April, sparked by the winding up of defunct bank Landsbanki. The jeweller’s former chairman Jurek Piasecki was reported to be a potential bidder at the weekend but this is thought to be unlikely. The source said there was “no truth or validity” in the rumour.
Hong Kong billionaire and Harvey Nichols owner Dickson Poon has also been linked to the deal, which values Aurum at £200m.
Landsbanki currently owns 67% of the business, chairman Don McCarthy owns 20% and the management, including Stead, holds the remainder.
Last month, Aurum rejected interest from rival Signet, its giant Anglo-American competitor, which owns high street jeweller H Samuel. The source said the management team decided not to act on Signet’s expression of interest as it did not fit in with its plans for the business.
It is understood one of Aurum’s selling points is its potential to expand internationally. Aurum posted £16.1m EBITDA for the year to January 30 on the back of 16.6% like-for-like growth.
The jeweller is the latest asset from collapsed Icelandic bank Landsbanki to be put up for sale as part of its winding up process. Buyers are currently circling frozen food chain Iceland.
Cavendish Corporate Finance is managing Aurum’s sale process.