500 jobs under threat as discount retailer Ethel Austin goes into administration
Around 500 jobs were under threat today after discount retailer Ethel Austin went into administration for the fourth time in as many years.
The appointment of Duff & Phelps as administrator comes a year after the chain, which has a 78-year history on Britain's high street, was rescued from collapse by former Blackwells bookshop chain director Sue Townsend.
Duff & Phelps said redundancies and store closures cannot be ruled out, but they are continuing to trade the 48-strong chain while seeking a buyer.
Joint administrators Philip Duffy and Sarah Bell said they were "urgently" reviewing the company's financial position.
Ethel Austin, which also trades as Life & Style, has suffered a "marked downturn" amid the recession, according to Duff & Phelps.
The Ethel Austin chain, which was founded in Liverpool in 1934, has struggled to survive amid tough retail conditions and in the face of fierce competition from rival budget chains such as Primark and Matalan, as well as the big supermarkets.
The group has shed hundreds of stores and thousands of staff since falling into administration in 2008.
It employed 2,900 staff and had 300 stores before the troubles struck in 2008.
Ms Townsend had hoped to turn the retailer's fortunes around by refocusing on its roots in the North West.
Before her rescue attempt, previous owner Elaine McPherson also pledged to breathe new life into the chain.
Ms McPherson - a former chief executive at Ethel Austin and joint-owner of MK One - bought the group out of administration twice, in 2008 and 2010, saying she would return it to its "former glory".
The womenswear business was founded by Ethel Austin and her husband George Austin in their Liverpool council house in 1934.
- 1 Replica Back to the Future Hoverboard released
- 2 Katie Hopkins attacked me on Twitter — so I reported her to the police for inciting racial hatred
- 3 Brixton squat flats now costing up to £3k per month show how out of control rent is in London
- 4 Gamers confess the worst things they've done in The Sims
- 5 Dylan Moran on quitting smoking, being about as sexy as the Pope and why comedy panel programmes are 'c*ck shows'
Costa Concordia: Shipment of Mob drugs was hidden aboard cruise liner when it hit rocks off Italian coast, investigators say
Germanwings crash: Captain of doomed plane was only 'on board because he changed job to spend more time with his children'
Iran nuclear talks: Prospect of deal with Iran pushes Saudi Arabia and Israel into an unlikely alliance
A new (old) cure for MRSA? Revolting recipe from the Dark Ages may be key to defeat infection
Jeremy Clarkson 'could be given minder' ahead of a potential Top Gear return
Ukip supporters are 55 or older, white and socially conservative, finds British Social Attitudes Report
Street preacher quoting from the Bible fined for calling homosexuality an 'abomination'
Jeremy Clarkson sacked live: Alan Yentob 'wouldn't rule out' ex Top Gear host's BBC return
Woman filmed launching racist tirade against men on the Tube for speaking in 'own lingo'
The West has it totally wrong on Lee Kuan Yew
David Cameron calls Labour 'hopeless, sneering socialists' while announcing 7-day NHS plans
iJobs Money & Business
£30,000 Annual: Sheridan Maine: A fantastic opportunity has arisen for a perso...
£11 - £13 Hourly Rate: Richard Bishop: Are you looking for a purchase ledger r...
£16000 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This leading provider of financ...
£15 - £17 Hourly Rate: George Parlour: Do you have experience in media billing...