Maplin is teetering on the brink after talks between its owner Rutland Partners and prospective buyer Edinburgh Woollen Mill (EWM) collapsed.
Discussions between the two businesses are thought to have come to a stalemate after EWM insisted that Rutland Partners maintain a stake in the business.
Retail Week understands that negotiations broke down earlier this evening.
As revealed by Retail Week last month, Maplin urgently needs fresh investment. The electricals chain now faces the prospect of administration. It is unclear whether any interested parties are left at the table.
Maplin’s struggles reflect the current malaise felt by much of the retail sector. Many major retailers including Tesco, Sainsbury’s, M&S and Arcadia are going through redundancy rounds, while the UK arm of Toys R Us is expected to fall into administration in the coming days, putting thousands of jobs at risk.
The toys retailer had been urgently seeking a buyer in the face of a looming deadline to pay a £15m VAT bill. The chain will not be able to cover those charges unless new investment is secured.
Toys R Us’ American parent company filed for bankruptcy protection last September, but its British business looked to have staved off collapse in December when creditors voted through a CVA, allowing it to shutter 26 stores and slash rents at other sites.
The anticipated demise of both businesses would leave a giant hole in the high street.
Maplin employs 2,500 staff across its 200 stores, while Toys R Us has about 3,000 workers in its 106 shops.
Maplin, Edinburgh Woollen Mill and Toys R Us are all yet to respond to Retail Week’s request for comment.