Sir Philip Green’s Arcadia group has tumbled into administration leaving the future of its 13,000 employees hanging in the balance. 

All of the company’s 444 UK stores will continue to trade under the government’s Covid-19 guidelines while a buyer is sought. 

Administrators from Deloitte said they were “rapidly seeking expressions of interest” in the group and “expect to identify one or more buyers” for its high street brands.

Arcadia owns eight retail fascias – Topshop, Topman, Burton, Miss Selfridge, Dorothy Perkins, Outfit, Evans and Wallis – but has toiled in recent years as the likes of Primark, H&M, Inditex and online competitors such as Asos and Boohoo ate into its market share.

No redundancies have been made following Deloitte’s appointment, but Arcadia’s workforce now faces an uncertain future.

Just under 9,300 of its staff have been on furlough leave during the second national lockdown across England, many of whom will return to work when ‘non-essential’ retail reopens on Wednesday. Arcadia’s brands will also continue to sell online.  

Arcadia chief executive Ian Grabiner said the group’s administration marked “an incredibly sad day for all of our colleagues, as well as our suppliers and many other stakeholders”.

Grabiner said the forced closure of its stores during the pandemic had “severely impacted trading” across the group. 

He added: “Throughout this immensely challenging time our priority has been to protect jobs and preserve the financial stability of the group in the hope that we could ride out the pandemic and come out fighting on the other side. 

“Ultimately, however, in the face of the most difficult trading conditions we have ever experienced, the obstacles we encountered were far too severe.

“Our priority now is to work closely with the administrators to deliver the best possible outcome for all our stakeholders, in particular our hard-working employees across the group.” 

Matt Smith, joint administrator at Deloitte, said lockdowns coupled with “broader challenges” facing retail stores had sparked “a critical funding requirement for the group”. 

Arcadia had been in talks to secure £30m in emergency funding from its lenders, while the offer of a £50m loan from Mike Ashley’s Frasers Group over the weekend was today rejected.

Frasers, which has already snapped up a host of distressed retailers over the past few years, is now expected to lead the race to save Arcadia.    

Smith stressed that Deloitte would “assess all options available for the future of the group’s businesses”.

He added: “It is our intention to continue to trade all of the brands, and we look forward to welcoming customers back into stores when many of them are allowed to reopen.

“We will be rapidly seeking expressions of interest and expect to identify one or more buyers to ensure the future success of the businesses.”