British shoe retailer Clarks has picked Hong Kong-based investment firm LionRock Capital to enter exclusive talks for a controlling stake in the 195-year old business, a source familiar with the matter has told Reuters.

LionRock has prevailed in an auction process which was launched earlier this year to inject much-needed cash into the struggling Somerset-based firm which is majority owned by the Clark family, the source said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

LionRock has elbowed out rival bidders including US private equity firm Sycamore Partners and is now in exclusive talks to secure a majority stake in the footwear chain valued at £100-150 million, the source said.

A spokesman for Clarks said that as part of the company's turnaround strategy its board of directors was reviewing options to best position the business and its brand for future long-term growth.

LionRock declined to comment.