Almost 1,200 high street jobs are under threat after 116-year-old retailer Austin Reed collapsed into administration, just a day after the failure of BHS.
Business advisory firm AlixPartners has been appointed joint administrator to the menswear group, which has 100 stores, 50 concessions and employs 1,184 staff.
Austin Reed will continue to trade while AlixPartners seeks a rescue deal for all or part of the business.
The move deals another blow to Britain’s high street following the administration of BHS on Monday, which has put 11,000 jobs under threat and threatened the closure of up to 164 stores in the biggest retail failure since Woolworths went under in 2008.
Austin Reed, which also has the Viyella and CC – formerly Country Casuals – brands, blamed its woes on “cash flow difficulties” and “challenging retail market conditions” as it failed to attract younger shoppers.
The group, founded by Austin Leonard Reed in 1900, had been put on the sale block in recent weeks but has reportedly been unable to find a buyer.
Peter Saville, joint administrator at AlixPartners, said: “Our priority now is to work with all stakeholders and determine the optimum route forward for the business as we continue to serve customers throughout the UK and Ireland.
“Austin Reed is a well-regarded and iconic brand and therefore we are confident that it is an attractive proposition for a range of potential buyers, as such we expect, and welcome, contact from interested third parties.”
The retailer’s latest set of accounts showed pre-tax losses widened to £5.4 million in the year to January 2015, up from £1.3m the previous year, after sales dropped 8 per cent to £100.5m.
Austin Reed agreed to offload 31 outlets after securing a company voluntary arrangement with its creditors in February last year. It also received financial backing from Alteri Investors, a specialist retail vehicle that last week took control of the group.