The administrators of Clinton Cards are to shut 350 stores, including the entire Birthdays chain, starting next week after concluding the retailer is “burdened with an untenable retail estate”.

Approximately 2,800 jobs are at risk as a result of the store closures. The entire Birthdays chain is to shut and 200 Clintons stores are slated for closure. This represent almost half of the retailer’s 784-strong portfolio. The shutdown programme is likely to continue into June.

Clinton Cards was forced to call in the administrators after its largest supplier, American Greetings, bought its £35m debt from bankers Barclays and RBS and immediately demanded repayment.

Administrators from Zolfo Cooper hope to stabilise Clinton’s financial position and preserve value. “In the course of this work it has become clear that the businesses is burdened with an untenable retail estate,” Zolfo reported.

Joint administrator Peter Saville said: “Given the sheer size of the Clinton Cards retail estate and the overall performance we were left with no alternative to this difficult decision.

“I am hopeful that the action we have taken will allow us to preserve value in the core underlying business, thereby allowing us and potential buyers to focus on a profitable and viable retail estate going forward.”

First round bids for collapsed greetings card retailer Clinton Cards must be submitted by next Friday May 25.

It is understood that Zolfo Cooper has received “substantial” interest from potential trade and other buyers but the exact number of approaches is unknown.

WHSmith, Card Factory and private investment firm OpCapita are among those to have expressed their interest immediately after Clinton hit the buffers last week. American Greetings may also potentially take control.

It is unclear whether Clinton founder and former chairman Don Lewin will table an offer.