Womenswear chain Fenn Wright Manson has called in a restructuring specialist as trading worsens since its acquisition by private equity firm Darwin 17 months ago.

Zolfo Cooper is working with the retailer to explore its options, according to The Independent.

The newspaper reports that administration has been floated if a rescue plan, such as fresh funding, cannot be delivered.

The retailer, which has 17 stores as well as concessions in John Lewis and House of Fraser,  was bought by Darwin in October 2010 in a deal which saw its last remaining founder Colin Fenn exit the business. Performance is understood to have deteriorated since Darwin took ownership.

Four of Fenn Wright Manson’s directors, Anju Mahbubani, Patrick Hollwey, Sharon Jones and Claire Lawrence, have recently left the business.

The retailer suffered a pre-tax profits plunge of 58%, to just £864,213, in its last reported financial year to 31 January 2011, despite turnover growing by 15% to £26.35m.