Fashion retailer Cath Kidston’s 60 UK stores are likely to be closed and the business will focus on trading online and wholesale.

CK Acquisitions, a company controlled by Baring Private Equity Asia, has bought the brand, ecommerce platform and wholesale business from administrators. The UK shops will remain under the management of administrator, Alvarez & Marsal.

It is expected that all shops will be shut, with the loss of 740 jobs in the UK.

Cath Kidston is one of several weak retailers that have been pushed over the edge by the impact of the coronavirus pandemic. Department store group Debenhams and fashion and home specialist Laura Ashley also went into administration in recent weeks.

Cath Kidston chief executive Melinda Paraie said: “While we are pleased that the future of Cath Kidston has been secured, this is obviously an extremely difficult day as we say goodbye to many colleagues.

“Despite our very best efforts, against the backdrop of Covid-19, we were unable to secure a solvent sale of the business which would have allowed us to avoid administration and carry on trading in our current form.

“We now look to the future and are focused on transforming Cath Kidston into a brand-first, digital-led business with a continuing mission to brighten customers’ lives with our much-loved, British-inspired prints and designs.”

A Baring Private Equity Asia spokesperson said: “While we are disappointed that the Covid-19 crisis has resulted in the cessation of the retail store network and impacted many employees, we are pleased to have secured a future for a number of Cath Kidston staff and the brand in the form of a viable digital business.”

The deal was first reported by Sky News.

Baring Private Equity Asia bought a stake in Cath Kidston in 2014 and subsequently took ownership in 2016.

The retailer, which has focused on building its operations in Asia, has been loss-making for some years. In the nine months to December 2019, it lost another £1m.