Mike Ashley, the high street billionaire, is in talks to sell online clothing brand Missguided to Shein, the giant Chinese-founded online fashion player.
Sky News has learned that the two parties are in detailed negotiations over a deal which would represent Shein’s first acquisition of a British fashion brand.
City sources said Shein and Frasers had been in discussions for several weeks about a transaction, and it was unclear how soon it might be announced or whether it was at risk of falling apart.
One added that the deal would likely include Missguided’s trademark and other intellectual property, with the head office retained by Mr. Ashley’s Company.
If accomplished, it would be a big step — albeit for a modest financial outlay — for Shein, which was founded in China and until recently was valued at more than $100 billion. (£81 billion).
At the time, it was worth more than H&M and Zara’s parent company, Inditex, combined.
A more recent funding round, which took place earlier this year, is reported to have valued Shein at around $66 billion. (£53 billion).
Now headquartered in Singapore, the company has thinly veiled ambitions to go public in the US in the next 12 months, and is lining up investment banks to handle an initial public offering.
Founded in 2012, Shein now operates in more than 150 countries.
Last month, Shein struck a deal with SPARC Group, a joint venture between Ted Baker owner ABG and Simon Property Group, a US mall operator.
Under this deal, SPARC’s Forever 21 fashion brand gained distribution on the Shein platform, which boasts 150 million users globally.
Shein acquired a third of the shares in SPARC Group, while SPARC Group also took an undisclosed minority interest in Shein.
A source said it was conceivable that talks between Shein and Frasers Group result in a comparable partnership structure, with key details still to be finalised.
Founded by Nitin Passi in 2008, Missguided became known for extraordinary and sometimes controversial stunts such as a £1 bikini offer.
It attracted investment from Alteri Investors in late 2021 but plunged into administration last spring amid mounting losses.
Boohoo Group was among the other suitors for the Missguided brand before Frasers tried to buy it out of insolvency.
Under Michael Murray, its new chief executive and Mr Ashley’s son-in-law, Frasers has sought to restructure its retail strategy.
The group owns brands as diverse as Evans Cycles, GAME, Gieves & Hawkes, House of Fraser, Jack Wills and Sports Direct.
Frasers also owns Missy Empire and ISawItFirst, two other women-focused, digitally-led fashion brands, leading it to conclude that Missguided is not central to its ambitions in that area of the clothing market, according to a source.
This weekend, the Frasers and Shein declined to comment.