The market place is eagerly waiting to learn if a deal can be forced which would see Sainsbury’s buy the Home Retail Group, which owns Argos.
There was shock when it emerged that an offer had been made but confirmation that it was turned down.
Now it seems that talks are continuing.
But it could see the closure of more than one in four Argos stores across the UK.
Among those likely to be axed would be those whose lease expires within the next five years or those whose leases have already expired.
They would become ‘concession’ outlets – relocated within the larger supermarket operation.
There is no indication in terms of jobs and how employees would be affected.
Locally, if the deal goes ahead, it will be an anxious time at a number of local outlets.
In Armagh, the Argos store is currently based at the Spires Retail Park, with a Sainsbury’s store as the anchor tenant of the Mall Shopping Centre.
Both Argos and Sainsbury’s sit within a short distance at Rushmere in Craigavon, and Portadown has an Argos outlet at the High Street Mall. Newry too boasts both outlets.
J Sainsbury today outlined the argument for takeover in a 22-slide presentation.
It’s initial offer – understood to be in the region of £1.2bn – was made in November and rebuffed. Details were only released last week.
It was revealed tonight (Wednesday) that top shareholders would not settle for anything less than £1.6bn.
Home Retail Group owns 734 stores across the UK.
Retail analysts suggest that anywhere up to 200 of these could close and be relocated within nearby Sainsbury branches.
There are already 10 of these trial ‘concessions’ in place.
Sainsbury’s has until February 2 to submit another offer or walk away.
The supermarket has seen fortunes fall in recent times but there was a slight turn around over the Christmas period.
Sainsbury’s is not yet giving any indication as to whether an improved bid will be launched but all will be revealed within the coming weeks.