Hobbycraft shortlist has six bidders

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The Independent Online

The field to buy Hobbycraft, the arts and craft retailer, for as much as £100m has been narrowed to up to six serious bidders.

The private equity firms Exponent, Bridgepoint Development Capital and TA Associates are among the firms chosen by Hobbycraft to enter the second round of bids due in April, after the retailer received as many as 20 indicative offers in the first round last month. It is unclear if Lloyds Development Capital is still in the frame to acquire the 47-store retailer. Isis, Phoenix Equity Partners and Graphite Capital are no longer believed to be in the running.

Hobbycraft, which is owned by the Haskins family, has been valued at £75m, but sources now suggest it could fetch up to £100m. The "category killer" has few direct competitors and has been cited as having the potential to grow to 180 stores. It is thought that Halfords, the bike and car accessory retailer, did not enter a first-round bid on 26 February, but it is unclear if it has since held talks with Grant Thornton, which is running the sale.

It is likely that whoever buys the retailer will retain the highly regarded management team, led by Chris Crombie, the chief executive. Hobbycraft, all the private equity firms, Grant Thornton and Halfords declined to comment yesterday.

TA Associates is also currently in exclusive talks to buy the floral fashion chain Cath Kidston for £100m.

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