DEPARTMENT store Beatties today confirmed that it has been approached by a potential gatecrasher to its £69.4m takeover by House of Fraser.
Midlands-based Beatties, which has a store at Kingsgate in Huddersfield, did not name the party but speculation centres on rival operator Debenhams.
Interestingly, Debenhams was one of the retailers approached to take the main store now occupied by Beatties at Kingsgate when Kirklees Council first announced plans for the shopping centre.
Beatties, which has 12 stores, told investors today that it had "recently received an unsolicited approach from a third party", but added there could be no certainty that an offer for the company would result.
It said it continued to "unanimously recommend" that its shareholders vote in favour of the takeover proposal announced by House of Fraser last week.
Privately-owned Debenhams has so far refused to comment on the speculation, which emerged in the press at the weekend.
Despite problems at its store in Birmingham, Beatties is regarded as an attractive target and the value of Beattie's freehold property could be worth as much as £40m and lead to opportunities for the kind of sale and leaseback deals that both House of Fraser and Debenhams have performed in the past.
House of Fraser, which operates from 51 sites, said the proposed acquisition provided it with about 653,000sq ft of profitable retail space.
The Beatties stores are expected to continue operating under its existing brand name, but benefit from the addition of House of Fraser ranges.