Sir Philip Green is in late-stage talks about the sale of a 25 per cent stake in his Topman and Topshop empire, a deal that could see him net £250m.
The retail entrepreneur hopes to sign a deal with the US private equity house Leonard Green & Partners (LGP) as soon as this week. Retail sources say confirmation could come on Thursday.
While Sir Philip himself declined to comment, analysts put the value of the empire at about £1bn. The cash injection in return for a sale of the chunk of the company would enable Sir Philip to quickly expand a business in which he has invested huge amounts of time, money and faith.
He has already taken Topshop to New York, Chicago and Las Vegas, and believes there is a huge market for its wares.
Earlier this year, he struck a deal with Nordstrom, the New York-listed department store chain, to sell Topshop and Topman-branded clothing in up to 100 outlets.
LGP has a track record in the fashion trade as part-owners of the US chain J Crew, a clothes company of which the US first lady, Michelle Obama, is a high-profile fan. Founded in 1989, LGP is one of the biggest private equity houses in Los Angeles. It has also taken stakes in Rite Aid and Whole Foods Market, among many other investments.
If Sir Philip pulls the deal off – the indications last night were that he would – it would make him one of the few UK business people who can truly claim to have cracked America.
Other retailers have struggled in the US, with even the mighty Tesco now battling to make its Fresh & Easy format work there.
Topshop is presently part of Sir Philip's Arcadia empire, which includes Dorothy Perkins and Miss Selfridge.
Although the structure of this deal is not yet clear, it seems likely that the other parts of the business will be ring-fenced from Topshop. Sir Philip is expected to tell staff that he remains firmly committed to the other brands which are not part of this deal. Sir Philip and his wife, Tina, are one of the wealthiest couples in the world, with a fortune estimated at £4bn.
Topshop has become one of the best-known fashion houses in Britain, raising its profile with sell-out collections by the supermodel Kate Moss and the designer Celia Birtwhistle.