HMV, the music group, is considering buying a handful of stores from the administrator to collapsed rival Fopp. The retailer is also looking at buying the Fopp brand, according to a report in today's Retail Week.
About 700 employees lost their jobs when Fopp went bust last month and called in administrator Ernst & Young.
Fopp is one of a number of retailers – including Hawkshead and Kwik Save – that have collapsed in recent weeks.
Last month, Fopp management declared the business was closed after operating on a cash-only basis for at least a fortnight. Fopp said the firm was still profitable but had "failed to gain the necessary support" from stakeholders and suppliers "to run our expanding business." When the chain closed Montgomery told The Scotsman that staff had not been paid because the bank had decided not to pay the wages.
It later emerged the company, which bought Music Zone out of administration in February, had simply assumed it would be given the same credit terms for the acquisition as the rest of the chain was given, without consulting its bankers, the Bank of Scotland. However Music Zone was treated by financiers on the same terms as start-up businesses.
The founder of Fopp, Gordon Montgomery, is also thought to be interested in buying back some shops and relaunching Fopp, although industry sources said he would face an uphill battle to win the support of former suppliers and staff.
Executives close to HMV confirmed that it was considering bidding, but cautioned that the retailer was looking at buying no more than a handful of stores. "We are interested in specific sites if they complement our store portfolio," they said.
Ernst & Young has instructed property agency Angermann Goddard & Loyd to sell half of Fopp's 100 stores. "The original Fopp portfolio has some great sites and we've had interest from retailers across many sectors," Mark Talbot, a director at Angermann, told the trade publication.
Mr Talbot said that he had offers on 50pc of the portfolio.