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Vulture fund Hilco plots swoop on ailing Bathstore | Business News



A vulture fund which has swooped on a string of retailers including Homebase and HMV is plotting a move to take over Bathstore as it hovers on the brink of collapse.

Sky News has learnt that Hilco is drawing up plans to acquire the specialist bathrooms chain, which is expected to appoint administrators from BDO in the coming days.

Hilco’s interest comes a year after it snapped up Homebase, the DIY retailer, with retail analysts suggesting on Friday that some form of tie-up with Bathstore could make sense.

Sources said Hilco was likely to be among a small number of parties that would look at preserving the bathrooms chain in a much smaller form.

Homebase was bought by Hilco last year

The company trades from more than 160 stores and employs more than 600 people.

It is owned by Stephens, an American investment firm.

Last year, it explored a merger with rival Victoria Plum, but the talks failed to result in a deal.

BDO is expected to be formally appointed to handle an insolvency process next week.

If Hilco does take over parts of Bathstore, it would be the latest prominent retailer to be swallowed by one of the UK’s most prolific acquirers of distressed retailers.

It has previously owned chains including Allders and HMV, with it putting the latter into administration just three days after Christmas last year.

Bathstore’s troubles are the latest example of the carnage gripping Britain’s retail sector amid a crisis over business rates and shifting consumer behaviour.

Maplin and Toys R Us have gone bust in the last 18 months, with tens of thousands of jobs lost elsewhere following store closure programmes at chains such as Debenhams, House of Fraser and New Look.

Sir Philip Green’s Arcadia Group, which owns Top Shop, was last week forced to beg creditors for approval for a rescue deal.

The most recent, Monsoon Accessorize, unveiled a plan on Thursday to seek steep rent cuts in exchange for handing landlords a £10m share of future profits.

The high street crisis has spurred a range of calls for government help, although beyond a series of funds aimed at regenerating high streets, little assistance has materialised.

Bathstore could not be reached for comment, while Hilco and BDO both declined to comment.

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