Restructuring specialist Gordon Brothers has been drafted in by administrator Ernst & Young to trade collapsed fashion retailer Republic as the hunt for a buyer continues.

A source close to the situation said that store closures at the 121-branch retailer are likely to begin “imminently”, however the adminstrator denied that claim.

Ernst & Young said: “Gordon Brothers have been appointed to assist with the in-store retail strategy. We will continue to trade Republic with a view to selling it as a going concern.”

The bulk of Republic’s head office staff were axed when Ernst & Young was appointed administrastor on Wednesday.

Republic, which operates 121 stores, is understood to have attracted interest from Blue Inc, and co-founder Carl Brewins is thought to be mulling a rescue bid.

Private equity firms including Better Capital and Apollo are also understood to be circling Republic.

An unidentified US retailer interested in establishing a UK presence has emerged as a potential bidder too, and is thought to be eyeing around 40 of Republic’s stores.