The company behind Ethel Austin, the discount fashion retailer, has collapsed into administration for the fourth time, putting 500 jobs in jeopardy.
Duff & Phelps has been appointed as administrator and will seek to find a buyer for the company, which trades 48 shops under the Ethel Austin, and Life & Style Retail banners.
GA Europe, the retail restructuring specialist, is understood to be advising Duff & Phelps on the expected closure of a number of Ethel Austin's stores. Duff & Phelps said the "administration comes after a marked downturn in sales brought on by the well-publicised economic difficulties facing the UK".
The financial advisory firm said it was "urgently" reviewing the company's financial position and at this stage it could not rule out closing stores or making redundancies.