Bridgepoint gives rivals the boot in battle for Faith Shoes

BRIDGEPOINT has fought off competition from rival private equity firms to emerge as the preferred bidder for Faith Shoes, the women’s footwear retailer that is expected to fetch about £55 million, The Times has learnt.

The private equity firm entered exclusive takeover talks this week after fending off rival bids from financial buyers such as Phoenix Equity Partners, HgCapital and ABN Amro Capital. Bridgepoint has until the end of March to finalise a deal with Waterford Corporate Finance, Faith’s adviser.

The sale, which includes the assumption of debt already in the company, would net tens of millions of pounds for Jonathan Faith, the son of the retailer’s founder and the sole shareholder.

Faith Shoes was set up in 1964 by Samuel Faith, now 72. He has since handed ownership and the running of the business to Jonathan, who is keen to leave after more than 20 years at the company.

Jonathan, 49, is thought to be keen to develop the stock monitoring system he introduced to Faith Shoes — which staff operate through a hand-held computer — so that it can be used by other retail chains. The technology is not included in the sale of the business.

The retailer now has 52 shops in cities such as London, Bristol, Cardiff, Edinburgh and Birmingham, as well as the Bluewater shopping centre in Kent and the Lakeside centre in Thurrock.

Faith Shoes also operates about 150 concession stores in retailers such as Debenhams, Top Shop and Alldays as well as selling shoes via the internet and over the phone.

The company, based in London, has about 2,500 staff and made a pre-tax profit of £2.6 million in the year to June.