Dewhurst, the largest chain of butchers in Britain, called in the administrators yesterday just a year after being bought by the West Country butchers' chain Lloyd Maunder.
BDO Stoy Hayward said 60 unprofitable shops would close while it sought buyers for 35 other stores.
The chain, which has headquarters in Tunbridge Wells, was bought by Lloyd Maunder, which is based in Devon, in March last year when it boasted 109 stores and 500 staff.
The purchase saw Lloyd Maunder's staff numbers rise 50 per cent to 1,500, while the number of shops under its control jumped from nine Devon outlets to 118 across the country.
Directors at Lloyd Maunder blamed rises in rent and energy costs since the autumn for the decision to call in the administrators at Dewhurst, which has been run as a separate company.
"Recent trading conditions have proved to be much worse than those we had anticipated. We can no longer justify the much heavier investment being demanded by Dewhurst's bankers to support this operation. We ourselves are the principal creditor involved," Lloyd Maunder said in a statement.
The number of independent butchers on the high street has dropped dramatically in the past 30 years, hit by the rise of supermarkets and a fall in meat consumption. The family-run Lloyd Maunder business was forced to close its lamb operations in Devon earlier this year after losing a key supermarket account. It also produces and packages fresh poultry for five supermarkets.Reuse content