THE greetings card business started by Huddersfield Town chairman Dean Hoyle is believed to have attracted a clutch of bidders willing to pay up to £400m.
European buyout houses Permira, Cinven and Summit Partners, a U.S. firm specialising in minority and majority investments, are among the firms to have submitted bids for the Wakefield-based firm, which operates more than 450 stores across the UK.
Warburg Pincus are also reported to have made a bid.
It is reported final bids must be made by March 26.
Mr Hoyle and his wife Janet, who started Card Factory in 1997, kicked off a sale of the business last month after calling in KPMG to advise on their options.
Reports say Summit Partners was unavailable for comment, while the other private equity firms and KPMG declined to comment.
Deal activity in the retail sector has warmed up since the start of the year, with a number of businesses including sofa retailer DFS courting deep-pocketed private equity buyers.
One of the first-round bids for Card Factory came in at about £400m, though other bids are some way below that level, it is reported.
One source told a US news reporter that bidders are finding the business difficult to value because it is growing so quickly.
The business is attractive because of its high margins, though prospects for future growth could be limited, another source said.
Card Factory is expected to post earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation of about £50m in the year to the end of January 2010 according to city reports.
The business posted profits of about £30m the previous year, according to accounts filed with Companies House.