The First Quench Retailing pension scheme could be passed to emergency agency the Pension Protection Fund in the wake of its administration.

It is understood employees of Threshers owner First Quench – which plunged into administration last month – received a letter advising that their pension may be passed to the Pension Protection Fund.

A spokeswoman for First Quench’s administrator KPMG – which has been finalising a sale of the business – said it had notified the Pension Protection Fund that the company was in administration, and the pension scheme’s trustees had contacted employees. She said the pension scheme has now entered an assessment period, which will last at least a year, to assess whether there are sufficient assets to pay out.

If there are insufficient funds, it will transfer to the Pension Protection Fund – a Government scheme set up four years ago to provide a safety net for members of schemes where an employer has gone bust.

It is understood KPMG was close to deals to sell off the remainder of the off-licence business as Retail Week went to press. Last week it announced the closure of a further 381 shops, meaning there are just over 400 left to be sold. Trade buyers remain the most likely to take up packages of stores.