Woolworths Holdings has offered AUD213m to buy up the remaining shares in retailer Country Road in a move designed to expedite its AUD2.15bn acquisition of department store business David Jones.

South Africa-based Woolworths already owns 87.88% of Australia’s Country Road, but wants to acquire the rest for AUD17 per share – most of it owned by investor Solomon Lew, who has an 11.9% stake in the business.

Lew also holds a minority stake in Woolworths’ takeover target David Jones, with the Country Road offer designed to win his approval for the David Jones takeover.

The investor had built up a stake in David Jones in recent weeks and, although the retailer’s board have backed the Woolworths acquisition, a shareholder vote on the deal has been delayed, amid fears that Lew could hinder or even block it.

Woolworths said it would be entitled to compulsorily acquire the remaining shares in Country Road if it passed the 90% share ownership threshold, at which point the retailer would become a wholly owned subsidiary.

“Given the role of Country Road in realising a substantial part of the synergy benefits arising from the previously announced acquisition of David Jones, achieving full ownership of Country Road is a logical next step,” Woolworths Holdings said in an announcement to the Australian Stock Exchange.

The offer was “in the best interests” of Country Road shareholders, it added.