The owner of Hawkin's Bazaar today became the latest victim of the squeeze in consumer spending when it collapsed into administration, putting nearly 400 jobs at risk.
Zolfo Cooper was appointed as administrator of Tobar, which owns Hawkin's, as well as toys and children's accessories retailer Letterbox, and its wholesale, mail order, and online businesses.
The group employs 380 full-time staff at its 65 permanent stores and at its head office in Beccles, Suffolk, which are now in jeopardy as the retailer seeks to sell all or part of the business.
The business will continue to be traded as a going concern by the administrator but a further 55 "pop-up" Hawkin's stores, which opened over Christmas and employ some 400 temporary staff, will be closed in coming days in line with its previous plans.
Hawkin's was set up in 1973 and sells unusual toys, gifts, games, gadgets and curiosities. It describes its offer as "things you thought had gone forever, things you never even knew existed".
A spokesman for Zolfo said: "The directors have worked very hard to turn the business around but have concluded that administration is the best route forward."
Hawkin's collapse, following the crucial Christmas trading period, comes after D2 Jeans appointed administrators earlier this week.
There are fears that many more chains could fold in coming weeks as businesses are sunk by their quarterly rent demands from landlords amid tough trading conditions.
Lingerie chain La Senza, originally set up by Dragons' Den star Theo Paphitis, is also expected to appoint administrators in coming days, and there is speculation Blacks Leisure will meet a similar end after it put itself up for sale.
Administrator Zolfo blamed "exceptionally challenging trading conditions" for the chain's collapse.
Shoppers who have gift vouchers for Hawkin's Bazaar will still be able to exchange these for goods in stores as normal. People will still be able to exchange unwanted items but will be refused refunds.
But suppliers owed money by Hawkin's will now need to deal with the administrators.