Fashion and homeware retailer Laura Ashley could back a rival bid to acquire men's wear company Moss Bros Group, according to newspaper reports.

The rumour surfaced days after Moss Bros received a GBP40m (US$79m) takeover offer from a consortium led by the Baugur Group, the Icelandic company which already controls UK high street names such as Oasis and Karen Millen.

Baugur has been granted due diligence by the retailer, but the founding Moss family is believed to oppose the 42p per share bid by the Icelandic investor.

Laura Ashley, itself controlled by Malaysia's MUI Group, has increased its stake in Moss Bros to over 5% this year, and could back a counter-bid from another mystery shareholder, who is reported to have a stake of about 4%.

But City insiders have also suggested that Laura Ashley could even launch its own counter-bid.

The Moss and Gee families, who founded Moss Bros, still own 26% of the company, making their support crucial to any bid. Baugur itself has already amassed a 29% stake.

Laura Ashley would not comment on the reports when contacted by just-style.