Private equity houses are circling value greetings card retailer Card Factory after its owner pushed ahead with a sale, it is understood.

According to industry sources first round bids for the retailer were due by Wednesday after its private equity owner Charterhouse decided to go ahead with a sale of the company.

Private equity firms Cinven, Advent International, KKR and CD&R, which bought value retailer B&M last year, are among the interested parties, according to The Daily Telegraph

A sale of the 650-store retailer is likely tso raise more than £500m.

Charterhouse acquired the retailer in 2010. Late last year it appointed Goldman Sachs to consider strategic options for the business including a refinancing and stock market flotation.

Charterhouse decided on a sale and has opened up a data room to potential bidders. It is understood Goldman may provide funding to the bidders.

Card Factory plans to double its store count.

In its last set of accounts for the year to January 31, 2012 Card Factory recorded pre-tax profit up 1% to £56m after it absorbed the VAT hike from 17.5% to 20%.