1,700 jobs at risk as Faith goes into administration

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The Independent Online

Footwear chain Faith was placed in administration today in a move raising fears over the future of more than 1,700 jobs.

Faith has been up for sale for a number of weeks, but administrators Mazars said they were called in after directors realised that a "solvent sale was not possible".

The sale of the 78-store chain, which employs 362 full time staff and 1,382 part time workers, will now be conducted by the administrator.

Heath Sinclair of Mazars said: "We are currently liaising with interested parties in an attempt to facilitate a going concern sale.

"We will be working closely with the businesses' stakeholders in an effort to preserve a well known retail brand.

"We are in the process of communicating with all staff, concession partners and suppliers and will seek to keep them updated as the process develops."

Faith, which specialises in fashionable women's footwear, operates 120 concessions within Debenhams, Topshop Oxford Street and other independent retailers.

The administration also affects FEC Holdings, Faith's parent company.

Today's move marks the second time in two years that the firm's future has been in question.

A management team led by John Kinnaird, former owner of Dolcis Shoes, stepped in to save the business in September 2008 after it was left hanging in the balance when the previous owners, private equity firm Bridgepoint Capital, were reportedly forced to put the business up for auction after failing to reach agreement with Barclays.

Bridgepoint bought the business in 2004 for £64 million from Jonathan Faith, son of Samuel Faith, who founded the business in 1964.

Mazars said despite "extensive restructuring" after the management buyout, "it became apparent the business remained significantly over-leveraged and as a result steps were taken recently to market the business for sale".

According to a report in the Independent, restructuring specialist Hilco has completed a deal to buy the firm's debt from investors and lenders.

Previously, the £14 million debt was held by Barclays, the investment fund Agilo and the management team.