Laura Ashley raised its stake in troubled menswear retailer Moss Bros yesterday for the fifth time this month.

The homewares and fashion retailer bought 100,000 Moss Bros shares at 46p each, lifting its holding to 5.96 per cent. Laura Ashley’s purchase price is nearly 10 per cent higher than the 42p a share that Icelandic investor Baugur said last month it was willing to pay for Moss Bros. The move has fuelled speculation that it could make a bid for the chain.

Baugur controls nearly 29 per cent in Moss Bros via its Unity investment vehicle. Both the Moss and Gee families have hit out at Baugur for what they believe is an attempt to buy the menswear retailer on the cheap.

Laura Ashley denied it is planning a bid, saying its stakebuilding is strategic. A spokesman told The Times: “The company sees Moss Bros as an investment opportunity.”

Moss Bros made a£5 million pre-tax profit last year and has issued two profit warnings since December.