Harold Tillman-backed department store Allders has collapsed into administration following “a marked downturn in sales”.

The famous department store, the third biggest in the UK, today appointed Duff & Phelps as administrator, blaming a sales decline on “the well-publicised economic difficulties facing the UK”. 300 jobs have been put on the line.

Retail-Week.com on Tuesday revealed that Allders was “four to five days” away from calling in the administrators as it desperately tried to renegotiate its rents with its landlord Minerva.

It is the second Tillman-backed business to hit the buffers this year after Aquascutum fell into administration in April. The same month he sold most of his stake in Jaeger to Better Capital.

Allders director Andrew Mackenzie said: “Whilst our funders, shareholders and concession partners have been supportive throughout and the ongoing restructure was progressing, the tough market conditions in the UK retail sector have forced the board to appoint administrators in order to protect the business and its creditors.  

“We will now work with the administrator to continue ongoing discussions with funders and other interested parties in the business.  With the considerable support already given by Croydon Council and our landlord Minerva, I would hope that additional investment or a sale can be achieved.”

A spokesperson from Minerva commented: “Since Allders approached us on 6 June, we have been engaged in a proactive dialogue with both the management and shareholders of Allders in a concerted effort to try and save the business.

“We responded quickly and constructively to the concession requested. We are very disappointed that, even with our offer to assist, the Board of Allders has been unable to conclude that the business is viable going forward and administrators have therefore been appointed.”

Allders remains open for business and the retailer said: “Concession partners are continuing to support the business during the administration.  Outstanding customer orders continue to be fulfilled.”

Croydon Council, which had offered to defer business rate payments for the retailer, said that it is working with the administrator to see if it can create a future for the store.

It said:”It’s very unfortunate that Allders did not seek help from the local authority until after it had secured a notice of intention to appoint an administrator.”

Councillor Mike Fisher, leader of the council, said: “This is a significant blow to the town and it’s particularly sad that this situation has arisen in the year that Allders has been celebrating 150 years of trading in the borough. Whilst there is no getting away from the fact that this is a very sad day for Croydon, we remain optimistic for the future of retail in the town.”

Duff & Phelps’s Geoff Bouchier, Matthew Bond and Philip Duffy have been appointed joint administrators. They said they are “exploring all potential options to maximise the realisation for the Company’s creditors including a sale of the business”.

The shop may play a large role in the redevelopment of Whitgift shopping centre in Croydon. Developer giants Hammerson and Westfield are in a battle to secure the rights to redevelop the scheme.

It was reported in January that MacKenzie had led a management buyout of the business, leaving former majority stakeholder Harold Tillman, who rescued the business - at that time a chain - from administration in 2005, with a 30% stake. However it remains unclear whether or not that deal took place.

Allders collapses into administration