The billionaire brothers buying supermarket Asda have gatecrashed a bidding battle for fashion chain Topshop, The Mail on Sunday can reveal.

Blackburn’s Zuber and Mohsin Issa have been locked in top secret talks to buy the fashion brand for the past fortnight and launched a late bid last week.

The Issas’ arrival at the auction for Topshop puts them head to head with online fashion giant Asos, which has also emerged as a serious contender in the past few days.

US fashion giant and Juicy Couture owner Authentic Brands, whose interest was first revealed in the MoS, also lodged a bid last week.

The Issas last week drafted in former Topshop boss Lord Rose to run part of their empire. They are understood to have already drawn up plans to put the fashion label into their Asda superstores next to its low price George At Asda clothing range.

‘The brothers have big plans for Asda and Topshop would be a great way of attracting in new customers that aren’t natural George shoppers or haven’t been in Asda for a while,’ said one source with knowledge of the auction process.

Arcadia, which owns a host of other brands including Burtons, Dorothy Perkins, Miss Selfridge and Wallis which are also up for sale, collapsed last month after being ravaged by the pandemic.

Administrators at Deloitte have been drafted in to sell the business by next month. It is understood they are hoping to top a sale price of £400million for the whole group, chiefly from selling Topshop.

The intentions of mysterious Chinese bidders Shein are currently uncertain although they are understood to have been the fourth firm to put in a final bid for the chain.

One source said some the bids are ‘closely matched’ but added that a preferred contender is likely to emerge in the coming days.

Zuber and Mohsin’s £6.8billion deal to buy Asda was agreed In October. But the complex deal will not be finalised until later this year.

The Issas are understood to be financing any Topshop deal separately with their private equity partners TDR Capital rather than through Asda or their EG Group petrol forecourt empire, which is based in Jersey.

Last week, the £18 billion turnover EG Group drafted in new chairman Lord Rose, former chief executive of Topshop owner Arcadia and who sold the group to Sir Philip Green and his family in 2002.

Next dropped out of the auction last week. Boohoo has shown an interest but its offer for the business is understood to have so far been lower than rivals.


Source: This is Money

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