It was make-or-break time for Dolcis as Retail Week went to press, as speculation mounted that the company had filed for a company voluntary arrangement (CVA) in an effort to buy more time to secure investment.

The management team has remained locked in talks regarding a potential new backer.

Dolcis boss John Kinnaird wanted a deal to be completed this week and said he was confident the potential investor would have indicated already if they did not want to get involved.

Kinnaird has been seeking a new investor since the end of December, when Epic Private Equity pulled out. He bought Dolcis from Alexon, with the backing of Epic, for£2.7 million in December 2006.

Separately, Stead & Simpson has sold its Famous Footwear chain, marking the first part of the sale of its business.

Famous Footwear, its 25-store factory outlet arm, was bought by supplier Jacobson Ventures, a new company created by Harvey Jacobson. He and his family are the main shareholders in Jacobson Group, a supplier to footwear retailers. They own a stable of footwear brands including Gola, Lotus, Frank Wright and Ravel.

Jacobson said: “Famous Footwear provides an opportunity to clear any excess stock without harming our brands.”

The remaining Stead & Simpson business, including Shoe Express, is likely to be sold piecemeal. One option is that a buyer may purchase the best-performing parts of the business as part of a pre-pack administration.