Sale on the cards as retailer appoints investment banker

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CARD Factory has appointed Goldman Sachs to advise on a possible sale in the new year.

It is understood that the investment bank will run an auction for the private equity-owned business.

The Wakefield company is one of Yorkshire’s most successful retailers. It has more than 650 stores, 6,700 staff and last year generated sales of £254.34m, up from £228.82m the previous year. It reported a healthy pre-tax profit of £56m.

Card Factory did not respond to calls for comment. A spokeswoman for Goldman Sachs declined to comment.

London private equity firm Charterhouse took a majority stake in the firm in April 2010 in a deal said to be worth £350m. The buyout generated a significant windfall for founder Dean Hoyle, who spent 13 years building up the business with his wife Janet.

Mr Hoyle, who opened his first shop in Wakefield in 1997, is also the chairman of Huddersfield Town FC.

A source told the Yorkshire Post: “Charterhouse is pleased with the development of the company so far. Therefore a sale sooner rather than later might well be something they consider.

“The business has done well since the sale to Charterhouse. The management team has done a fantastic job in acclimatising to a new environment, which is very different from when Dean Hoyle was running the place.

“The fact that Clinton Cards is a shadow of its former self has created a situation in the market which is very positive for Card Factory.”

Administrators closed 350 Clinton Cards stores earlier this year before selling the rest of the business to US company Lakeshore Lending Ltd. Clintons now has 397 stores.

The directors, led by former bank manager Richard Hayes, are confident in the company’s position as the leading value retailer in the greeting cards sector, according to the latest accounts.

The original sale process aroused massive interest from potential buyers with interested parties said to include buyout firms Permira, Cinven, Summit Partners and Warburg Pincus.

Mr Hoyle has said: “If people could shop in Harrods and pay Netto prices, that is the perfect scenario and we’re trying to give that kind of experience.”