Sir Philip Green’s retail empire Arcadia is on the brink of collapse despite an emergency loan offer.
The high street giant – which includes Topshop, Burton and Dorothy Perkins in its stable of clothing brands – could enter administration “within hours”, the BBC reported, citing senior company sources.
British sportswear tycoon Mike Ashley’s Frasers Group confirmed that it had offered a £50 million ($67m) loan to help Arcadia avoid bankruptcy.
But Arcadia does not consider the Frasers loan offer a serious proposal and is still expected to file for creditor protection soon, it was reported.
Arcadia’s collapse would put 13,000 jobs and 500 shops at risk.
Mr Ashley owns Newcastle United Football Club and bought troubled department store chain House of Fraser in 2018.
Frasers said: "The company can confirm that it has made an offer and provided draft terms to the Arcadia Group for a loan of up to £50m and is now awaiting a substantive response.
"Should the company and the Arcadia Group's efforts to agree an emergency funding package fail and the Arcadia Group enter into administration, the company would be interested in participating in any sale process."
Arcadia had been seeking extra cash to help meet its loan obligations after a shortfall in revenue because of the effects of coronavirus.
It said on Friday that the pandemic had had a "material impact" on trading, with lockdowns forcing shops to close, and that it was working on "a number of contingency options" to secure the future of its brands.
The failure would deliver another body blow to Mr Green, whose reputation took a battering after the high-profile collapse of retailer BHS four years ago.
In 2015, the billionaire sold BHS for just £1 to Dominic Chappell, a former bankrupt businessman with no retail experience.
BHS then collapsed a year later, resulting in 11,000 job losses and leaving a huge deficit in its pension fund.