House of Fraser owner Mike Ashley has been linked to a deal to seize as many as 30 stores from rival Debenhams.
City sources said the billionaire has discussed the matter with senior staff and could make a public statement to clarify the situation as soon as this week.
Ashley is the majority owner and driving force behind Frasers Group, which also owns sportswear giant Sports Direct.
Mike Ashley has been linked to a deal to seize as many as 30 stores from rival Debenhams
He has long held a desire to take control of Debenhams and has tried to install himself into a senior board role at the department store on at least two occasions.
It had been thought that the coronavirus crisis may have dampened his desire to seize some or all of the chain, which The Mail on Sunday revealed last month had been put up for sale. When called about a possible deal, Ashley responded: ‘No comment.’
It is not clear whether the number would include around 35 Debenhams stores that have remained closed after high streets reopened in June.
One retail source said the shuttered stores included ‘some real dogs’ that could be virtually impossible to revive.
Debenhams reopened 124 stores in June.