The general merchandise retailer Wilkinson has withdrawn from the bidding for the hardware chain Robert Dyas, which could be sold for up to £15m.
At least one other party, thought to include an unknown trade bidder, remains in talks about buying the 100-store chain.
But the exit of Wilkinson, the UK's eighth-biggest private retailer which claims to be "the home of family value", is a blow for the owners of Robert Dyas.
Robert Dyas has been majority owned by its lenders since a painful debt-for-equity swap with Lloyds Banking Group and Allied Irish Bank in 2009.
Lloyds, which has a 40 per cent stake, put the hardware retailer up for sale this year by hiring advisers at Cavendish Corporate Finance.
The former management team of Robert Dyas submitted a bid but it is thought to have been lower than the part state-owned bank wanted. Brent Wilkinson, the chief executive of Robert Dyas from 2000 until 2004, and Roger Pedder, the retailer's chairman between 1997 and 2004, worked with NBGI Private Equity on a bid.
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