Previously, Authentic expressed interest in a deal with Hunter and is now leading the race for its acquisition, according to Sky News.

Sky News shared that one source suggested a deal valued at approximately GBP100m (US$125m), which is ahead of previous expectations, may be awaiting Hunter.

The source added that China’s digital commerce group BaoZun, which owns Gap’s operations in Greater China, also remains interested in a deal if the talks with Authentic falter.

A source close to Authentic confirmed to Just Style there are a number of parties in the bidding race but no movement on the record in terms of people getting close to the signing. While Hunter did not respond to Just Style’s request for comment at the time of going to press.

In March, reports surfaced that an auction of the business was taking place after Hunter secured a multimillion-pound funding lifeline, with existing shareholders injecting GBP5m into the business and lenders contributing a further GBP2m.

There has been a flurry of M&A deals in the apparel sector in recent years as companies look to grow globally while navigating supply chain pressures and muted consumer demand for fashion.

Authentic, the company behind brands like Reebok and Ted Baker, has been on an acquisition spree in what it previously called a “strategic diversification” of its portfolio.

In April alone, the company finalised acquisition deals with Boardriders and Vince Holdings IP, with talks underway for a probable deal with Hunter.