Fashion-to-furnishings retailer Laura Ashley has been approached by a Moss Bros shareholder to lend its weight to a counterbid to Baugur’s £40 million indicative offer for the retailer, according to reports.

Laura Ashley, which owns a 5.4 per cent stake in the menswear retailer via investment vehicle Bagley Investments, is understood to oppose the 42p-a-share cash offer. The Moss Bros shareholder reportedly has a 4 per cent stake in the business.

The founding Moss and Gee families, who together own 26 per cent of Moss Bros, have also been approached by the unnamed shareholder.

Both families have been vocal in their opposition to the Baugur bid, which they say undervalues the retailer.

A group with a 30 per cent shareholding could launch a counterbid or buy-out Baugur’s 29 per cent stake.

According to separate reports, another potential bidder is believed to be shareholder John Hanson, who runs suit hire chain Greenwoods and holds a 1.5 per cent stake in Moss Bros.

It has also been revealed that Moss Bros received an indicative offer of 80p to 85p a share from Baugur initially made in late 2006 and blocked by family shareholders. The approach valued the retailer at twice that offered by Baugur this week.

It is understood that the Gee family considered the earlier approach, but that the Moss family was unwilling to except the offer at that level.

At the time of the earlier offer, Baugur demanded irrevocable support from the family shareholders, but did not make such demands as part of its new 42p-a-share proposal.