The former boss of the Garden Centre Group Nicholas Marshall is mulling over a bid for Homebase, according to reports this morning.

Marshall, who led the garden store chain that has since been rebranded Wyevale, said he had been eyeing Homebase for the last two years.

He admitted he was talking to private equity firms about a potential acquisition of the home and DIY specialist, but had not made an approach to parent company Home Retail Group, which also owns Argos.

Home Retail issued a profit warning in October as it braced for Black Friday “uncertainty” but its shares rocketed at their highest rate for more than two years last weekend following suggestions that private equity groups were lining up bids for the group.

And Marshall, who was drafted in to rejuvenate the Garden Centre Group in 2009, told The Financial Times: “Undoubtedly something has got to happen. It can’t just sit there treading water.”

Sources close to the situation reportedly said that Marshall would seek to rejuvinate Homebase by transforming it from a DIY centre into a more family-friendly retailer, targeting more extensive garden centre outlets, pet products and concessions.

Analysts have estimated that a bidder for the entire Home Retail Group would have to pay around £1bn to seal a deal, compared with more than £3bn the last time there was break-up speculation five years ago.