Endless and Hilco in the frame to acquire Faith

Hilco and Endless have emerged as two of three front-runners to acquire Faith, the women's footwear chain that is up for sale.

A third unnamed bidder is also in the frame to acquire the 78-store retailer, in addition to the restructuring specialist Hilco and the Leeds-based private equity firm Endless. Faith, which has debts of £14m, is expected to announce a deal within days. But the private equity firm Epic is out of the running. The accountancy firm Grant Thornton is running the sale process and Clearwater Corporate Finance is advising Faith, which also has 120 concessions, on the right investor to choose.

The sportswear retailers Sports Direct and JD Sports Fashion have been linked to a deal, but sources played down the prospects of them making a serious bid for Faith. Reports have also suggested that GA Asset Advisors, the restructuring specialist, has run a slide rule over Faith.

Faith made earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation of £1.5m in the year to January 2010, following a loss of £5.5m the previous year which included eight months under former management. Earlier this month, sources close to Faith vehemently denied that if a sale is not agreed then an administration is a possibility.

Faith, Hilco, Endless, Grant Thornton, Clearwater, Sports Direct, JD Sports Fashion and GA Asset Advisors declined to comment today.