Women’s wear retailer The Talbots is refusing to comment after the company’s share price surged on reports that it had put itself up for sale.

Shares in the troubled business rose by nearly 20% on Friday (20 January) following a number of reports that Talbots strategic advisor Perella Weinberg had started an auction of the company.

Some reports named private equity company Golden Gate Capital as one potential bidder for the retailer, following Golden Gate’s US$75m acquisition of the J Jill brand from Talbots in 2009.

The Talbots rejected a $212m bid from another private equity company, Sycamore Partners, in December, complaining that the price “undervalued” the business.

Reports suggested that the auction process could be complete by the end of the second quarter, but The Talbots said it would not comment on the reports “as a matter of company policy”.

Meanwhile, The Talbots is continuing its quest for a new chief executive to replace the outgoing Trudy Sullivan, who announced late last year that she would retire.