Pawnbroker Albemarle & Bond has appointed PwC as its administrator after lenders rejected its rescue plan.

The group, second largest pawnbroker in the UK, has183 branches and almost 900 staff.

PwC is planning to sell all or part of the business and branches will initially remain open as discussions progress, although it said some redundancies may be necessary.

All staff have been paid as normal in March, as have landlords. This follows the landmark legal case against Game which makes it harder for retailers and their administrators to avoid paying rent while insolvent.

Albemarle & Bond started an ambitious expansion plan in 2011 as rising gold prices and tightening bank lending led to surging profits. It planned to open 25 stores a year as it aimed for a 400 shop estate. However, as gold prices tumbled over the past year, profits were hit. The business was put up for sale in December but it was unable to find a buyer.

The pawnbroker suspended its shares yesterday after its banks pulled its support.

PwC partner and joint administrator Mike Jervis said: “The group expanded its branch portfolio in the period to early 2013 and ended up with too many underperforming outlets. It then explored a rights issue to raise funds, before attempting a solvent sales process. Together, these efforts lasted more than six months. Despite this history many different parts of the group, and large swathes of its shops, remain profitable.”

“The group and PwC are doing all that they can to support employees through this difficult time and will work with government agencies in order to support anyone affected by potential redundancies.”

Jervis said that all pawned items are safe and available for redemption.