A GREETINGS card chain owned by Town chairman Dean Hoyle and his wife Janet has attracted a clutch of bids from potential buyers, it is claimed.
The Card Factory, which was founded by the Hoyles in 1997, is said to have attracted bids valuing it as high as £400m.
European buy-out houses Permira, Cinven and Summit Partners, a US firm specialising in minority and majority investments, are among the firms to have submitted “first round” offers for the Wakefield-based company.
The Card Factory is forecast to make pre-tax profits of £50m in the year to January 2010 against £30m the previous year. It has been valued at £400m by at least one bidder, according to newspaper reports.
The firm is one of Yorkshire’s fastest-growing companies, with 4,500 staff and about 480 stores.
There are two shops in Huddersfield – at the Piazza and the Packhorse Centre. Others include ones in Dewsbury, Batley and Halifax.
The latest developments follow the appointment of business advisers KPMG to carry out a strategic review of the company late last year.
Reports said Summit Partners was unavailable for comment, while the other private equity firms and KPMG have declined to comment.
Deal activity in the retail sector has warmed up since the start of the year – boosted by hopes that the UK is now emerging from recession.
The Card Factory is proving attractive due to its high margins, although analysts said its massive growth rate made it difficult to value.
Last October, The Card Factory was named in the Sunday Times Top Track 250, which lists Britain’s biggest private companies.
The firm ranked 238th in the list with sales of £157m last year. However, when looking at operating profit, Card Factory jumps into the top 50 most profitable private mid-sized companies in the UK.
The results covered the period before Card Factory acquired about 80 extra shops from failed rival Card Warehouse which was forced to close 200 others.
Mr Hoyle, 42, was also named Retail and Consumer Products Entrepreneur of the Year at the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur Of The Year Awards for 2009.