Retail rivals Sports Direct and JD Sports Fashion are limbering up to submit bids to acquire the group behind the Bench clothing brand for up to £100m.
The UK sportswear giants could be joined by private equity firms in tabling offers for the Manchester-based Americana before the first-round deadline of 30 April.
Hg Capital, the group's private equity owner, put Americana up for sale by hiring advisers at Canaccord Genuity Hawkpoint this year. Sports Direct, which is controlled by its founder Mike Ashley, and JD have expanded in recent years by acquiring clothing businesses – often at knock-down prices.
Mr Ashley's purchases include Republic, Firetrap and Full Circle, while JD has bagged Gio-Goi and Cecil Gee, among others. Bench's UK sales have been under pressure but three-quarters of its revenues come from overseas.
All parties declined to comment.