Faith Shoes has been acquired by Bridgepoint Capital in a deal worth a total of £64 million (e93m-$124 m), with debt provided by Barclays. Jonathan Faith, the previous owner and chief buyer, son of Samuel Faith who founded the company in 1964, has left the company to develop a stock management system first used at Faith. He is believed to have made around £45 million (e65.5m-$87.1m) from the deal.

Bridgepoint plans to further expand Faith in the UK and to franchise the brand internationally. Faith, which operates 67 standalone stores and 120 concessions in the UK, mainly in Debenhams department stores, made net sales of £73.5 million (e107m-$142.2m) for the 12 months ended June 30, generating operating income of about £6 million (e9m-$12m) before amortization (Ebitda). Bridgepoint has already set expansion targets for Faith Shoes, but it will not disclose them at this stage.

Jonathan Faith, who turns 50 at the end of December, had been delegating responsibilities lately to Jacqueline O’Neill, who is staying on as managing director, and to other managers such as her husband, Paul O’Neill, who is still the retail director, and Mel Serpen, who will remain as the buying director. Even before the transaction was closed, Bridgedale had put in a new finance director, Lindsay Dunsmuir, and a new non-executive chairman with retail experience, Roland Denning.

Bridgepoint Capital, a private equity group, had already offered £64 million for the retailer early this year, but then lowered its offer price after a slowdown in Faith's sales during the spring selling season. Exclusive negotiations were resumed in the summer, after Bridgepoint considered more in detail the value of its management team and its technology.

Faith has a unique retail system called Retelligence, designed by Jonathan Faith. Shop assistants are equipped with hand held terminals combining bar-code scanning and radio communication to allow them to communicate electronically with the stock room without leaving the shop floor.

The British shoe retailer, well known for its medium-priced women's footwear and the excellent locations of its stores, had appointed BDO Stoy Hayward, an accountancy firm, to advise it on the transaction. BDO Stoy Hayward, which has been appointed by coincidence to handle the sale of LK Bennett as well (see next story), declines to name the other companies that made bids for Faith or expressed interest in the takeover.

Among other properties, Bridgepoint owns Adams Childrenswear and Molton Brown in the UK, and Nocib, a fragrance group in France. The acquisition of Faith is its eighth investment this year through its €2 billion Europe II fund and its fourth one in the UK. Bridgepoint bought Pets at Home, a UK retailer of pet foods and products, for £230 million in July, and 1st Credit, a UK debt purchase and collection services business, for £72 million in November, plus SEA, an Italian manufacturer of caravans.

The acquisition of Faith by Bridgepoint highlights the current private equity interest in footwear companies, as seen with the sale of Jimmy Choo to Hicks, Muse, Tate & Furst by Phoenix Equity Partners (see previous issue of Shoe Intelligence), and by the possible sale of LK Bennett.