No rest for as online retailer seeks buyer

(c) Sky News 2019: <a href="">No rest for as online retailer seeks buyer</a>

One of Britain's biggest online furniture retailers has kicked off an urgent search for a buyer, underlining the challenges facing internet-based shops even as their high street rivals battle the worst trading environment for decades.

Sky News has learnt that the owners of have hired KPMG to identify a buyer.

LGT European Capital, which took control of last year after having been a lender to the business, is understood to be seeking to secure a change of control within weeks.

The sale process comes despite people close to the company insisting that it recently enjoyed its best-ever trading week, with sales up 30%. is chaired by Justin Stead, the former boss of the jewellery retailer now called Watches of Switzerland Group.

A potential sale of the site comes during a protracted period of turmoil for the retail sector, with both online and high street businesses affected.

Asos (LSE: ASC.L - news) , the fashion darling of Britain's digital retail sector, announced a surprise profit warning shortly before Christmas, while this month's flurry of festive trading updates has represented a mixed bag for an under-pressure industry.

DFS, the furniture retailer, said it had enjoyed a strong Christmas in terms of sales, with underlying growth of 10%, including a 22% rise in online gross sales.

LGT became the majority shareholder in last April, with the business previously having been owned by CBPE, a private equity firm.

In its accounts for the year to 28 February last year, Topco said its "trading performance in the year [had] been impacted by uncertain market conditions".

The company reported flat turnover of £28.8m and an operating loss of £33.6m, more than double the previous year's loss. is expected to have been impacted by the administration of House of Fraser and subsequent closure of a number of its outlets amid plans to roll out concessions across the department store chain.

According to the accounts, a debt-for-equity swap was carried out last summer to reduce the company's debts by nearly £60m.

A number of parties are understood to have informed KPMG of their interest in a potential acquisition of

The value of any takeover was unclear on Thursday.

A spokeswoman for declined to comment.