Entrepreneur strikes deal to buy Owen Owen stores to kick-start Allders rebirth
Entrepreneur Harold Tillman is to resurrect the Allders department store chain to cash in on the grey pound.

Tillman, who bought the Allders name and its Croydon flagship following its collapse in 2005, is understood to be close to finalising a deal to buy three department stores from Owen Owen to kick-start the roll-out.

The sites thought to be included in the deal are Lewis's in Liverpool, Robbs in Hexham, Northumberland and Jopling's in Sunderland. Owen Owen went into administration last month. The company's Esslemont & Macintosh department store in Aberdeen is not thought to be part of the deal.

Tillman is expected to rebrand at least one of the sites to Allders and agreements are likely to be signed as early as next week.

Separately, Tillman is understood to have approached Baugur about buying a number of House of Fraser stores that serve an older demographic.

A source close to Allders said there are many potential sites for the roll-out. 'The way the economy is going, the next few months is the time to look for sites,' he said.

He added that Debenhams may sell stores later in the year if performance continues to be poor and that Beales also represented an opportunity for Allders.

One source close to Tillman said that the roll-out had been prompted by his desire to cash in on the booming over-50s market, which has spending power of£205 billion a year.

The so-called grey pound has become increasingly attractive to retailers. Entrepreneur Sir Tom Hunter has been buying businesses that target older consumers, including Wyevale, Blooms of Bressingham and a 30 per cent stake in Flying Brands.

Prior to its collapse, Allders operated from 45 stores, but it failed under the strain of debts to the tune of£300 million under the management of Terry Green.

Retail Knowledge Bank senior partner Robert Clark said there is scope for a department store chain targeting an older demographic with a balance of fashion and homewares. 'There is a niche developing where there is potential for Allders. There is increasing segmentation of markets and the grey pound is a very sophisticated growing market,' he said.

A spokesman for House of Fraser said that none of its stores are for sale. Harold Tillman was unavailable for comment.