Around 850 people lost their jobs at the failed childrenswear chain Adams today when administrators announced the closure of 111 stores.
The remaining 160 stores, which employ 2,350 staff, will stay open as normal while administrators from PricewaterhouseCoopers continue to seek a buyer for the business.
The administrators are hopeful that they can sell some parts of the business, which went into administration on New Year's Eve.
Rob Hunt, joint administrator and partner at PricewaterhouseCoopers, said: "I am pleased to say that we have had a number of expressions of interest in the Adams business and brand. As a result, we are hopeful that we will be able sell some parts of the business."
"However, following our appointment and in light of the current downturn being experienced on the high street, it is with regret that it has been necessary to effect the closure of 111 stores throughout the UK as of today. Unfortunately, this will inevitably lead to a number of job losses and 850 people across the company will be made redundant with immediate effect. My team and I will be doing all we can to help these employees at this difficult time."
The closures affect sites in Glasgow, Belfast, Leeds, Birkenhead, Blackpool and Coventry, among others.
Operating from its base in Nuneaton, Adams is the largest independent childrenswear retailer in the UK with an annual turnover of £150m. It operates 270 stores and concessions throughout the country trading under Adams Kids. The company also supplies a number of overseas franchises.
Adams was rescued from administration less than two years ago, but since then worsening sales have made it harder for the firm to shoulder some £30m of debt. Under fierce competition from supermarkets and other high street retailers, it has struggled to carve out a niche for itself.
The childrenswear retailer joins a lengthening list of retailers to have failed in the toughest trading environment experienced by the high street in decades.
Woolworths and the furniture chain MFI are the highest profile casualties to date, but the list includes the entertainment chain Zavvi, tea and coffee merchant Whittard of Chelsea and the menswear chain Officers Club. And today Waterford Wedgwood, the 250-year-old maker of luxury glassware and china, also announced it was going into administration.
The body count in the retail sector continued to rise with nearly 200 redundancies at specialist chain Passion for Perfume.
Management tried unsuccessfully to sell the Manchester-based business as a going concern but staff were told last week the search had been unsuccessful. Its 45 stores have now closed with 195 retail and head office staff let go. Administrators Deloitte were appointed today, tasked with finding a buyer for the stores and stock.
Bill Dawson, reorganisation services partner at Deloitte, said the retailer had been a victim of "challenging trading conditions and reduced consumer demand. We will continue to seek a buyer but do not intend to trade the business."