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Faith hopeful of finding backers

The Faith management team is understood to have garnered potential bid interest from four private equity firms after the beleaguered footwear chain was put on the market by its banker Barclays last week.

Chairman Steve Cotter and managing director Steve Swaby appointed corporate advisory firm Baker Tilly to help them find a buyer after Barclays rejected an £8 million cash injection and debt-for-equity swap deal from Bridgepoint Capital, Faith’s private equity owners.

Cotter and Swaby are believed to have met with seven private equity firms since the business was put on the market.

A source close to the situation said Cotter and Swaby and Baker Tilly were working on a proposal as Drapers went to press, and that they were “reasonably hopeful” they would be able to strike a deal with Barclays and FTI Consulting, which is handling the sale.

The source said: “In these situations timetables can be accelerated and a deal could conceivably be done within seven to 10 days.”

Meanwhile, the industry has called for clarification over the sale situation.

The Stylo group, owner of the Barratts chain and the saviour of Dolcis, which it rescued from administration earlier this year, is understood to be meeting with FTI Consulting, but several retailers contacted by Drapers said they had not been contacted about whether they were interested in making an offer and that more transparency was needed.
However, a source said: “FTI is bound to be cautious about widely distributing sensitive information about Faith to competitors. A solution which backs the management would be favourable at this stage.”

Rival retailers told Drapers there was still value in the Faith brand name and that the concession business within Debenhams was attractive, but they added that expensive rents on some of Faith’s high street locations had dragged the business down.

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