Private equity firm Sun European Partners is thought to be the front runner to acquire troubled womenswear group Alexon.

It is thought Sun European, which also owns furniture retailer ScS, wants to buy the whole group, which owns brands Alexon, Ann Harvey, Dash, Kaliko, Eastex and Minuet.

Debenhams, which houses a number of Alexon concessions, is also thought to be in the running, and is understood to be working on a deal with restructuring firm Hilco. Sources told Retail Week that Debenhams would only be interested in certain brands, including Dash and Kaliko.

Womenswear retailer Jacques Vert is also thought to be keen to buy parts of the business.

Investor EW Holdings and private equity turnaround specialist Rutland Partners were also thought to be interested but it is unclear if they are still part of the process.

Earlier this month Alexon updated the market, reporting that indicative proposals to buy the company were submitted on September 16 and that one of the proposals received was being reviewed by the board before determining the next stage of the sale process.

The proposal was at a significant discount to the current share price.

Alexon has suffered in the tough market, issuing a profit warning on September 5. It appointed KPMG to advise on its restructuring options earlier this month.

Sun European, Alexon, Debenhams and Jacques Vert declined to comment. Hilco could not be reached.