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The Reliance Retail group bought toy store Hamleys last year and is now reported to be among the parties in discussions with advisers to Debenhams about acquiring part or all of the retailer.
Sources have claimed that Reliance’s interest would not necessarily develop into a formal bid for Debenhams, however one insider said that the group’s interest appeared to be serious.
An auction of Debenhams has been underway for several weeks, with investment bankers at Lazard responsible for co-ordinating talks with potential buyers. The emergence of Reliance as a prospective bidder has come as a surprise, and the group’s participation in the sale process may ultimately involve it bidding for only part of the department store chain’s assets, according to insiders. However, there is also speculation that the move could potentially see Debenhams, which closed its toy departments, reintroduce the category with Hamleys concessions.