Matalan could be put up for sale next year with a £1.5 billion price tag. A sale would net hundreds of millions of pounds in profits for its founder John Hargreaves, who took the business private in an £827m deal backed by £410m of debt three years ago.
It is understood the sale plans are at a very preliminary stage and no bankers have been formally appointed, but Matalan boss Alistair McGeorge has held several meetings with advisers in the past few weeks to discuss strategic options for the chain.
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The group has kept a low profile since it left the stock exchange but in June it released its latest financial figures, which revealed solid profits, a sharp rise in sales and a steep reduction in borrowings to £247.4m.