Maplin owners Montagu Private Equity are in talks to sell the electronics retailer for a fraction of the price they paid for it, it is understood.

Montagu is in exclusive talks to sell Maplin to Rutland Partners for £80m – down on the £224m it paid for it in 2004. However, sources pointed out Maplin, which has more than 200 shops, has paid down most of its debt.

The low valuation comes despite strong trading. Like-for-likes were up 17% last month and by 8% in the calendar year to date.

Rival bidders for Maplin included Lloyds Development Capital, according to Private Equity News.

Earlier this year Montagu hired PwC to manage a sale of Maplin. Montagu initially tried to sell Maplin in 2011.

Maplin and Montagu declined to comment.