Jones the bootmaker is set to return to the UK following a rumoured £17m deal between Italian fashion house Prada and a UK consortium.

The 140 year old bootmakers chain was bought by the Italian fashion house in 1999 as part of a £106m acquisition of shoemakers Church & Co, but has always intended to sell the chain on because its middle market audience was not in keeping with Prada's upmarket image.

The consortium, made up of Ken Bartle, the former head of Stead & Simpson, Peter Phillips, who used to run Character Shoes and Lance Clark, a major shareholder in the Clarks footwear group, have been backed in the deal by Burdale Financial, an asset based finance house with experience in the footwear retailing and manufacturing sectors.

It has been reported that Prada had been keen to sell the chain before its expected floatation in May this year.