PAI Partners, the private equity firm behind Spanish fashion retail giant Cortefiel, and T J Hughes investor Silverfleet Capital, have thrown their hats in the ring to buy footwear retailer Office, Retail Week can reveal.

Investment bank Merrill Lynch and private equity firms Blackstone and TPG are also thought to have made first round bids for the 124-store chain.

Blackstone this week emerged as one of the bidders for value fashion group Peacocks, while TPG acquired young fashion chain Republic in June.

One of the bids for Office is said to be as high as £170m but sources have cast doubt on the figure.

Retail entrepreneur Tom Hunter, who owns Office via his private equity business West Coast Capital, put the chain up for sale in July for offers of between £150m and £200m.

Permira, the private equity giant which backs value chain New Look, also expressed an interest but is understood to have dropped out of the running.

Boutique advisory firm Hawkpoint and US boutique advisory business Financo are jointly running the sale process and second round bids are due by November 16.