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Administrators shut 50 Fosters shops

ADMINISTRATORS to Fosters Trading, the menswear retailer which collapsed last month, are to close 50 of the group's stores with the loss of up to 400 jobs. The move is part of a rationalisation programme designed to stabilise the company before it can be offered for sale.

Further closures among the chain's 175 outlets cannot be ruled out as the administrators, BDO Stoy Hayward, continue with their three-month review. Fosters currently has 1,700 staff.

Directors called in the administrators after the company's bankers said they could no longer provide adequate financial report. Fosters' stores have been hit by sales of branded sportswear which has affected sales of its own denim and casualwear ranges. A disappointing Christmas and a deteriorating market led the group's bankers to call for a review of operations. The directors then applied for an administration order.

Fosters was founded in 1876 and was part of the Sears retail empire until 1992. It was then the subject of a management buy-out led by David Carter- Johnson. But with a weak brand and an increasingly competitive market it has found the going tough. It now has significant debts and recorded a loss of pounds 2.1m last year on sales of pounds 95m.

BDO Stoy Hayward is concentrating on stabilising the company's finances before any decision is made on a possible sale. BDO's David Gilbert said the plans was to turn Fosters into a leaner and profitable company "providing a platform for future growth".