Around 1,600 jobs are under threat after up-market fashion retailer Joules revealed it is set to appoint administrators following a failure to secure a vital cash injection.
The brand – famous for its posh wellies – said talks over an emergency cash-call with investors including its founder Tom Joule were unsuccessful and have ended.
It said it would file a notice of intention to appoint Interpath Advisory as administrators to the firm and its subsidiaries, including online home and garden retailer The Garden Trading Company, "as soon as reasonably practicable."
Joules said: "The board is taking this action to protect the interests of its creditors."
The firm will suspend trading of its shares on the stock market due to the decision, adding that further announcements will be made "in due course".
For now, it's expected Joules stores and websites will continue to trade as normal.
The Leicestershire-based chain employs around 1,600 staff and has over 130 shops.
Joules is the latest retailer to struggle after online furniture business Made.com collapsed last week, with rival Next buying up its brand, websites and intellectual property.
The deal led to 320 redundancies at Made, while a further 79 employees who had already resigned and were working out their notice were forced to leave the business immediately.
Next had also been in talks with Joules over a deal to buy a minority stake in the business, but discussions between the two collapsed in September.
Joules then revealed it was in talks over a so-called cornerstone equity raise with strategic investors including Mr Joule – who recently returned to the firm in an executive position as product director.
It was also discussed with Mr Joule and its lender a possible bridge financing deal to allow the funding talks to continue but failed to secure the crucial strategic investment needed.
It has suffered a slump in shares over the past year following profit warnings amid soaring costs and a downturn in consumer spending.
Mr Joule founded the eponymous firm in 1989, when he began selling clothing on a stand at a country show in Leicestershire.
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Lisa Webb, consumer rights expert at Which?, said: “The news that Joules is entering administration will be devastating for its employees, as well as a real concern for customers with orders placed – as exercising your rights is not always straightforward in these circumstances.
“When a company is in administration, it may not accept the return of items.
“Many customers may find themselves in a situation where items have not been delivered. It is always worth trying to claim for a refund in these situations, but customers should know it is not guaranteed. The cost of repairs for faulty items could still be claimed if they came with a warranty.
“If you’ve bought something on your credit card costing more than £100, the card provider is jointly responsible for any breaches of contract.
“You can claim under Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act if the item is faulty or not delivered.
“If you paid for goods that cost less than £100 on a credit or debit card, you may be able to claim under chargeback.”