Three-quarters of the workforce at historic carpets firm Axminster have been made redundant after the company entered administration.
The Devon-based company, which dates back 250 years, blamed a sharp increase in raw material prices and the UK's continuing economic difficulties for the decision to go into administration.
Restructuring firm Duff & Phelps, which has been appointed to run the firm, said it will continue the company's search for a buyer but said it had been necessary to make around 300 staff redundant.
It will keep just 100 staff after deciding to downscale the company's carpet manufacturing operations at Axminster and Buckfast. It will also end yarn production but two factory outlet stores will remain open.
The company, which warned last month that it would go into administration, is one of the world's largest makers of Axminster, Wilton and Tufted carpet.
It is one of Devon's biggest employers and its plight prompted more than 6,000 people to sign a petition calling for it to be saved. Carpet making in the Devon town dates back to 1755 but the present company was founded in 1937. The original Axminster carpet was laid in Brighton Pavilion as well as bought by King George III and Queen Charlotte. Axminster's products are now found in a number of Britain's stately homes.
Director Joshua Dutfield said: "Trading has been difficult and although it saddens the board to make the decision to enter administration it could not be avoided. The management have been working with key suppliers, creditors and lenders to resolve the company's financial difficulties and whilst the last few weeks have been stressful, the company managed to pay the wages yesterday.
"We are now committed to working with the administrators to assess all viable options for the future of the business and achieve the best possible outcome for all concerned and most importantly the staff."
The private equity firm Carlyle, which owns the Axminster carpet manufacturer Brintons, has been linked to a possible deal for the company.
Duff & Phelps administrator Benjamin Wiles said: "We recognise the importance of the business to the local community and will be seeking to work closely with management and all key stakeholders to restructure the business where possible, including the possibility of selling all or part of the business." The company will attempt to fulfil existing orders while its main suppliers have offered their continued support for the business.
High Street casualties
300 Axminster workers laid off
Administrators sounded the death knell for Woolworths in December 2008, leading to store closures that left 27,000 people out of work. Since its collapse former Woolworths stores have become a blight in many town centres and more than 100 of the large stores still lay vacant in January 2012.
Loyal customers didn't have go without the family favourite store for long however as it reappeared online as Woolworths.co.uk in 2009, after Shop Direct Home Shopping bought out the Woolworths name.
The greetings cards specialist became the latest highstreet casualty in May with 8,000 jobs on the line when it was forced it into administration. Its biggest supplier, American Greetings, then bought Clintons out of administration and put the retailer through a rebrand including a new logo and complete in-store revamps.
Its contemporary format includes new fixtures and fittings and easier to navigate stores, and will be rolled out to all 400 UK stores at the cost of £16million. Bosses aim to bring the brand back to profit within two years.
Poor sales in the run up to Christmas was the final nail in the coffin for several struggling chains, including lingerie retailer La Senza, which went bust in January 2012 with 146 shops and 2,600 staff. Kuwaiti retailer Alshaya bought part of the business, which saved 60 shops and 1,000 staff.
La Senza has been struggling in a similar way to other specialist shops such as Game and Mothercare, which have been hit by cut-price competition at supermarkets and have no alternative products to help shoulder losses.
Stricken retailer Blacks Leisure, which employed 3,600 staff across 98 Blacks stores and 208 Millets stores, went into administration in Janurary 2012 after failing to find an outright buyer.
Soon after its stores were bought by sportswear firm JD Sports in pre-pack deal - an insolvency procedure which sees a company being sold immediately after it has entered administration – which saw most of Blacks' £36 million of debt wiped out.
Fashion chain Bonmarche, which was part of the Peacock Group, was sold in January when the group collapsed due to unsustainable debts, resulting in 1,400 job losses and 160 store closures. Private equity firm Sun European Partners bought 230 stores, which continue to trade with 2,400 staff.
Peacocks collapsed under a £740 million net debt mountain in January 2012 in the biggest retail failure since Woolworths. Despite being sold out of administration to Edinburgh Woollen Mill in a deal that saved 380 stores and 6,000 jobs, administrators from KPMG were forced to close 224 stores with immediate effect. This lead to 3,350 redundancies from stores and Peacocks head office in Cardiff.
The high street name continues trading as bosses work to stabilise the situation, yet a further blow was dealt this month with news that the firm's pension fund is in £15.8 million shortfall as a result of the collapse.
Game buckled under its £85m debt pile in March 2012 and was placed into administration after being unable to pay a £21m rent bill. Administrator PwC immediately closed 277 shops, with the loss of 2,000 jobs. Soon after, investment firm, OpCapita bought 333 Game stores, saving more than 3,000 jobs.
Game's demise followed a string of profit warnings and the failure of nervous suppliers, including leading names Electronic Arts and Nintendo, to go on providing the latest games, further damaging poor sales.