American investment business Flacks Group has confirmed that it is in the “very preliminary stages” of a takeover bid for Laura Ashley.

Flacks Group, owned by Manchester-born Michael Flacks, has offered the homeware and fashion retailer £20m for the company, which equates to a maximum cash payment of 2.748p per share.

If Flacks Group acquired the business, it is understood the group would focus its attention on the American market and markets outside of Europe.

The potential takeover bid follows a statement earlier today by Laura Ashley with chair Andrew Khoo insisting there had been “no approach whatsoever”.

“If and when an approach is made, the board will discharge its duties as always and assess it on its relative merits,” he said. “I would, however, like to state for the record that as major shareholders of Laura Ashley, we have no intention of divesting our controlling stake.

“Whilst I understand why potential parties would think we are significantly undervalued, I have complete confidence that we will be able to grow profitably and in a sustainable manner so as to create long-term value for our shareholders.”

The struggling retailer posted a profit warning in its latest trading update as like-for-like retail sales fell 4.2% during the 26 weeks to December 31.

In the same period the previous year, the business recorded a £4.3m pre-tax profit. Khoo said trading conditions were “difficult” during the six-month period amid “continued market turbulence”.