Doubts over 1,700 staff as shoe chain Faith fails

MORE than 1,700 retail jobs were hanging in the balance last night after Faith, the fashion footwear brand, went under.

It has been up for sale for a number of weeks, but administrator Mazars said it was called in after directors realised a "solvent sale" was not possible.

Heath Sinclair, a partner at Mazars, said: "We're currently liaising with interested parties in an attempt to facilitate a going-concern sale.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

"We will be working closely with the business's 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 has 78 standalone stores throughout Britain and operates 120 concessions within Debenhams, Topshop Oxford Street and independent retailers. It employs 362 full-time and 1,382 part-time staff.

The news came as official data showed that retail sales volumes rose by 0.4 per cent in March – half that expected by the City – amid signs of consumers turning more cautious.

Economists warned that the depressed retail conditions could affect eagerly awaited economic growth estimates for the first quarter of 2010, due today.

They expect the UK economy to have grown by 0.4 per cent in the first three months of 2010 – the same pace at which the country left recession in the fourth quarter of last year.

Howard Archer, chief economist at IHS Global Insight, said: "Although the economy still seems likely to have expanded for a second successive quarter, the retail sales data add to the risk that the GDP data could disappoint on the downside."

It is the second time in two years that Faith's future has been in question. A management team led by John Kinnaird, the Scottish retail entrepreneur and former owner of Dolcis Shoes, stepped in to save the business in September 2008 when its previous owner, private equity firm Bridgepoint Capital, was reportedly forced to put the business up for auction after failing to reach agreement with Barclays, one of its backers.

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

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Mazars said that despite "extensive restructuring" it had become apparent that Faith "remained significantly over-leveraged" and had to be put up for sale.

Meanwhile, the Office for National Statistics said retail sales volumes rose by just 0.4 per cent during March – far below the 0.8 per cent expected – although the value of goods sold rose by 0.9 per cent. Stripping out fuel sales, retail volumes were even more sluggish – growing just 0.2 per cent month-on-month – despite the boost to the retailer sector from an earlier Easter.