“We have up to $300m ready and we want to buy an international brand. We could spend more than that,” he said, in an announcement to the Cairo and Alexandria Stock Exchanges, where the firm is listed.

In March, it acquired British clothing retailer Speciality Retail Group for $43m. Speciality Retail Group operates 70 stores in the UK and Ireland under the Suits You, Racing Green and Young’s Hire brands.

“Italy is a dream for us. If we have an international brand in Italy, it would change our dimensions,” said Arafa.

The company generates some 90 per cent of its revenues from exports. Its clothes are sold by retailers such as Debenhams, Harrods, Marks & Spencer, in the UK, and Bloomingdales in the US.

Arafa generated net profits of $31m in 2007.