Card Factory is poised to be sold to private equity firm Charterhouse for more than £350m, sources familiar with the situation have told Retail Week.
A deal with Charterhouse would surprise observers because the private equity firm had not previously been linked to Card Factory.
Leading contenders for the 480-store retailer were understood to have been investment firms including TPG, Summit Partners and Warburg Pincus. Permira and Cinven chose not to make offers.
Sources close to the situation said Card Factory is on heads of terms with Charterhouse, and a deal could be done in days.
The greetings card retailer, which has thrived in the recession, was put up for sale in February by its founders Dean and Janet Hoyle, who hired KPMG to look into strategic options.
The retailer is expected to reveal revenues of £210m in the year to January 31, with underlying profits of £53m.
The husband and wife duo founded the Wakefield-based company in 1997.
Card Factory could not be reached.
Charterhouse and KPMG both declined to comment.