Iconic department store business Selfridges is up for sale, with its billionaire owners having reportedly instructed Credit Suisse to start looking for a buyer.
The current owners, the Weston family, launched the formal auction, with the business valued at as much as £4bn ($5.5bn).
The price tag has been said to reflect the business's property portfolio as opposed to the current profitability.
The deal could complete by the end of the year and pitch documents targeted at interested parties — reported by Sky News to be a small number at the moment — are set to be sent out.
Selfridges has 25 stores worldwide, including a flagship Oxford Street offering. It also incorporates the Arnotts and Brown Thomas brands in Ireland.
The potential sale was first reported on last month after an unnamed bidder approached the Westons. The family has controlled the group since 2003.
The Westons already own a majority stake in Primark owner Associated British Foods (ABF.L).
The last 16 months have equalled tough times for retail, with shops all but shut. The 113-year-old group looked resilient due to a major investment in its offering, however lockdowns scuppered any in-person sales for months.
Selfridges cut 450 jobs, or 14% of its workforce as lockdowns bit a year ago, and a lack of tourist footfall has held back its return to booming sales.
High street contemporary Debenhams collapsed late last year, and was later bought out by online-only retailer BooHoo (BOO.L). TopShop suffered a similar fate, finally being bought out by online giant Asos (ASC.L).
Watch: Asos wants TopShop without the shop