Barratts Priceless, the retail footwear group, has collapsed into administration again, to leave nearly 4,000 jobs hanging by a thread.
The company, which trades 191 shops as Barratts and Priceless Shoes, appointed Deloitte as administrator yesterday after becoming the latest victim of the sharp downturn in consumer spending. Its sales of new winter lines have also been hit by the unseasonably warm weather.
The shoe group, which employs 3,840 staff, will not be the last sickly retailer to collapse before or shortly after the first-quarter rent day that falls on 25 December.
But Barratts Priceless has been struggling for years and the two chains had previously fallen into administration in January 2009, when they operated under the listed shoe group Stylo. The chairman of Stylo, Michael Ziff, whose family remain the biggest shareholders in Barratts Priceless, then rescued 220 of 380 stores out of administration in March 2009.
Deloitte will continue to trade the stores to find a buyer for all, or part, of the business. Barratts Priceless also has 371 concessions, with the bulk being in Arcadia Group's BHS and Dorothy Perkins shops. As a result, Arcadia's owner, Sir Philip Green, could play a key role in deciding the future of Barratts Priceless.