French DIY group Leroy Merlin, which has stores across 12 countries, is mulling a bid for Homebase, it is understood.

The reports come as takeover interest in Homebase owner Home Retail escalates.

Leroy Merlin, which operates stores across 12 countries and is owned by Adeo, is said to have taken “repeated looks” at a takeover of Homebase in recent years, according to the Sunday Times. It is unclear if the retailer is still considering a bid or not.

A spokesperson contacted by the Sunday Times said the group would not comment on speculation and that it was “focused on peak trading”.

The news follows reports last week that former Garden Centre Group boss Nicholas Marshall was also considering a bid for Homebase. At the same time, private equity groups are reportedly eyeing Home Retail.

In its first half Homebase reported rising like-for-likes and profits, however, some have suggested it has no clear defined strategy. The retailer is aiming to trim its store estate by closing a quarter of its 320 stores.

Home Retail appointed a new managing director Echo Lu, a former Tesco executive, earlier this year.

According to Investec, Home Retail could be worth up to £1.45bn.