Spotlight Brands and Gordon Brothers International LLC (Spotlight) have dropped out of the race to acquire French Connection but a further three parties have expressed interest in the brand, triggering a formal sales process.

The fashion retailer confirmed last month it had received two separate takeover approaches from Spotlight Brands in conjunction with Gordon Brothers, and Go Global Retail in conjunction with HMJ International Services.

In a stock exchange disclosure today (2 March), French Connection noted an announcement by Spotlight confirming it does not intend to make an offer for the company and added it has been approached by and engaged in preliminary conversations with a further three interested parties, in addition to Go Global, concerning proposals which may or may not result in an offer.

“Accordingly, the company has now agreed with the UK Takeover Panel that any discussions in relation to an offer for the company may take place within the context of a formal sale process in order to enable conversations with parties interested in making such a proposal to take place on a confidential basis,” it added.

“There can be no certainty that an offer will be made for the company, nor as to the terms on which any offer will be made.”

The struggling retailer last July secured GBP15m in funding for its operations, after warning that it was likely to run out of cash. In December it secured US$6.5m of additional funding for its US business and said trade at stores that had reopened since the second lockdown in England and Wales was “encouraging.” 

In its most recent results for the six months ended 31 July, French Connection said group revenue almost halved to GBP23.9m (US$31.2m) from GBP51m in the prior-year period, with underlying loss slumping to GBP12.2m from GBP3.6m in 2019.

Go Global Retail is a brand investment platform that acquired women’s clothing company and online retailer ModCloth from Walmart. It is led by industry veteran and sourcing expert Jeff Streader who spoke with just-style at length about how Go Global’s new M&A model puts garment makers at the heart of the deal.