Toys R Us has fallen into administration, putting about 3,000 jobs at risk at one of the UK’s best-known children’s retailers.
Administrator Moorfields, which has been appointed to wind down the company, insisted it still holds out hope of finding a last-minute buyer.
Simon Thomas, a partner at Moorfields, said: “We will be conducting an orderly wind-down of the store portfolio over the coming weeks. All stores remain open until further notice and stock will be subject to clearance and special promotions.
“We’re encouraging customers to redeem their gift cards and vouchers as soon as possible. We will make every effort to secure a buyer for all or part of the business.”
The loss-making Toys R Us retailer has been hunting for a buyer for several weeks, but the formal appointment of administrators was announced on Wednesday.
The 105-store chain is a subsidiary of the eponymous US company, which filed for bankruptcy protection in the US and Canada last year after amassing $5bn (£3.7bn) of debt.
The brand, which runs large out-of-town stores, has struggled to keep pace with shifts in shopping habits as Britons increasingly buy toys online or in supermarket aisles.
Electronics retailer Maplin could follow Toys R Us into administration this week, with efforts to find a buyer yet to yield results.
Maplin, which is owned by the private equity investor Rutland Partners, has been struggling to find new funding since last autumn when it lost its credit insurers, which means that suppliers demand cash payment for stock upfront rather than one to three months after delivery.