The number of large retailers launching company voluntary arrangements (CVAs) increased seven-fold last year, according to Deloitte.

Figures from the auditing firm revealed that 13 multi-store retailers, including the likes of New Look and Carpetright, used the insolvency process last year.

That marked a huge increase compared to 2017, when just two large retailers launched CVAs.

The number of retailers falling into administration increased 6% to 125 during the year.

Deloitte partner and head of restructuring services, Dan Butters, said: “The squeeze in margins has left many retailers burdened with loss-making stores. This is a key driver for the rise in the number of major retail CVAs in 2018, with retailers seeking to close stores to reduce their cost base.”

Butters warned that he expected a “particularly challenging” quarter at the start of 2019 following a challenging Christmas trading period.

He added: “Consumer confidence fell in the third quarter of 2018, which, combined with inflation-driven pressure on disposable incomes, has contributed to twelve consecutive months of declining footfall.

“The rapid decline in the performance of the high street has driven bricks and mortar retailers to increase their levels of discounting to counter this. This comes as retailers continued to face increasing staff and property costs, and a weaker sterling.”