Pressure on Austin Reed to accept bids

Austin Reed will this week come under pressure from shareholders to reconsider approaches from bidders after it emerged that Jonathan Rowland, the son of property developer David Rowland, had made a 158p-per-share indicative offer for the upmarket menswear retailer.

Large shareholders in the struggling company are keen for the group to open its books to potential bidders, including Mr Rowland, in light of recent sales figures that revealed underlying trading had continued to deteriorate.

Mr Rowland's £50m approach was among those rebuffed by Roger Jennings, Austin Reed's chief executive, last month, for "seriously undervaluing" the group. It is understood that the approach was fully funded.

Mr Jennings, who called off takeover talks last month after his main suitor, Slater Menswear, failed to secure financing, confirmed yesterday that Mr Rowland's approach was "among those considered at the time when [all the approaches] were considered". Mr Jennings added: "We haven't had an approach since then."

Austin Reed owns 140 shops, including a flagship store on Regent Street in London that is set to re-open this autumn after a major refurbishment.

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