One of Marks & Spencer's clothing suppliers collapsed into administration yesterday, putting hundreds of UK jobs at risk.
The demise of SR Gent, which employed more than 4,500 people in its heyday, followed the dismissal of its chief executive and finance director last week amid questions over its accounts.
A rival supplier has swooped on the part of SR Gent that produced clothing for M&S, safeguarding 100 of its 670 jobs. The Fielding Group, which is based in Bedfordshire, will take over the supply of women's and children's clothing to the retailer, which was SR Gent's biggest customer.
David Hargreaves, who was parachuted in as interim chief executive last week, appointed PricewaterhouseCoopers as receivers to the company last night.
Michael Gercke, the joint administrative receiver, said trading would continue as normal while PwC sought buyers for other bits of the business, which also supply the children's clothing brand OshKosh and Philip Green's Topshop. "Interest is being expressed in other parts of the business," Mr Gercke said.
The South Yorkshire-based SR Gent, which was founded about 60 years ago, was once one of the country's most prominent clothing manufacturers. The retail industry's move to source cheaper garments from overseas forced it to close all its UK factories, ceasing production entirely earlier this year when it shut its remaining site. It became one of the industry's middlemen, sourcing garments from the Far East. It has warehousing and distribution sites in Barnsley and also has a London office.
The company has failed to file its latest set of accounts but records at Companies House show that in 2003 it made a pre-tax loss of £875,000 on sales of £75.5m.
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