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20 June 2013, 14:14
Milton Keynes-based furniture retailer Dwell has collapsed after attempts to sell it failed, putting about 300 jobs at risk.
The retailer said it had ceased trading and closed its 23 stores and one concession, while asking staff to stay at home, as it prepares to appoint administrators.
The company said no deliveries will be made and customers with outstanding orders should contact their card issuer.
Dwell is the latest casualty in the battered retail sector, which has this year seen firms including entertainment group HMV, bed retailer Dreams and youth fashion chain Republic plunge into administration.
Dwell started trading from a single store in Balham, south London, in 2003 and expanded in the south of England. In recent years it has opened stores in Birmingham, Manchester and Glasgow.
But the upmarket retailer, majority owned by private equity firm Key Capital Partners, has struggled amid sluggish consumer confidence and a weak housing market.
The company warned in its latest set of results that the "current economic situation is uncertain, consumer confidence is low and trading conditions are challenging within the declining household goods and furniture sector''.
It slumped to pre-tax losses of £1.7 million in the year to the end of January 2012 on turnover of £34.5 million, as losses deepened from £440,000 a year earlier.
The company said today: "The business had been working with its advisers to secure further working capital for the business and was actively in the process of talking to a number of interested parties who saw the value of the Dwell brand and product, its customer base and its multi-channel proposition.
"However, despite this interest it did not progress. As a result we have been left with no option but to close the business with immediate effect.''
Dwell is reported to be close to appointing Duff & Phelps as administrator and its website has been taken offline.
A spokeswoman said it is too soon to say what will happen to jobs.
Dwell has stores inside The Centre MK in Central Milton Keynes and at a retail park in Rooksley, Milton Keynes. It also has stores at: Lakeside Retail Park in Essex, Tottenham Court Road in London, Manchester's Trafford Centre, Glasgow, Balham, Bimingham's Fort Dunlop and Bullring shopping centres, Bluewater in Kent, Bristol, Cardiff, Cheltenham, Guildford, Kingston, Leeds, Manchester, Nottingham, Reading, Richmond, Solihull and Westfield shopping centres in west and east London.
It also has a warehouse and distribution centre in Milton Keynes.