Fashion chain Republic has called in the administrators, putting jobs at risk in its three Lancashire stores.
The clothing retailer confirmed widespread fears that its future was in the balance, by announcing yesterday that it had called in accountants from Ernst & Young following a dip in sales.
Republic has three stores in Lancashire, on the ground floor of Preston’s St George’s Shopping Centre, in The Mall in Blackburn and on Victoria Street in Blackpool.
The administrators said they had already made 150 staff redundant at the firm’s head office in Leeds.
The chain was founded in 1986, when it was known as Best Jeans.
It underwent an expansion a decade ago, selling branded clothes to the youth market and mostly focusing on the north of England, but has more recently seen sales take a nosedive.
Administrator Hunter Kelly said: “Republic suffered poor trading results in the autumn, and while sales picked up in December there has been a sudden and rapid decline in sales in late January.
He added: “We will continue to trade Republic, with a view to selling the business as a going concern.
“The brand Republic is well recognised, particularly in the North.
“It has a powerful website offering, owns well-known brand names, and has some very attractive and profitable stores.
“We are grateful for the continued support of all employees and customers during this time, and would like to thank everyone for their commitment and hard work as the business continues to trade.”
The news comes a few weeks after high street names HMV and Jessops announced store closure plans in the difficult economic climate. HMV’s outlet on Fishergate in Preston survived the cull but Jessops on the same street shut.