Cooplands (Doncaster) and Coopland & Son (Scarborough) are on the verge of signing a joint deal to buy 22 of Ainsleys’ 29 shops out of administration.
The two companies, which are separate businesses with different sets of shareholders, but which have family links, are understood to have collaborated on and agreed a joint bid with administrator Grant Thornton. It would see Cooplands of Doncaster acquire 12 stores in the city and southern perimeter of Leeds, while Coopland & Son of Scarborough would buy 10 stores in the area to the east and north of Leeds.
An industry source said the companies joined forces in a bid to strengthen their chances of agreeing a deal, giving the administrator the opportunity to sell the majority of Ainsleys’ retail estate in one go. The acquisition is set to be formally completed later this month.
The remaining seven Ainsleys stores are likely to be sold off to other buyers, with Greggs previously voicing its interest in some of the outlets. It is thought the central bakery in Leeds will be sold separately.
Family business Ainsleys of Leeds, which employs nearly 300 people, went into administration in November, due to the pressure from declining sales and increased competition. It has continued to trade, as administrators look for a buyer.
"Ainsleys won’t be the last bakery business to have over-stretched itself in the current climate," said the source. "Consolidation in the sector will continue in the coming year with trading on the high street still very tough."