The administrators of Clinton Cards have ousted chief executive Darcy Willson-Rymer, it is understood, and WHSmith may enter the fray for control of the retailer.

Clinton Cards hit the buffers on Wednesday after supplier American Greetings bought the retailer’s £35m debt from banks Barclays and RBS and forced an administration.

Administrator Zolfo Cooper has now dispensed with the services of Willson-Rymer, The Sun newspaper reported. It is understood other members of the Clinton board have also exited.

Willson-Rymer, who formerly ran Starbucks in the UK, became the first person outside Clinton’s founding Lewin family to run the retailer when he was drafted in last October to turn around the embattled business.

Before Clinton’s collapse, had been expected to update on his proposed strategy this week. It is thought that American Greetings was unimpressed with his plans.

American Greetings may end up taking control of Clinton itself, but a number of other potential buyers are circling – now including WHSmith.

The bookseller and stationer has been pushing into the cards market with the fledgling Funky Pigeon stores and online business.

Other interested parties include Card Factory and turnaround investor OpCapita, owner of electricals retailer Comet and entertainment specialist Game.