MORE retail jobs on Wearside are under threat after high-street store Clinton Cards went into administration.
Horrendous trading figures for the greetings card business meant that bosses have decided to take action.
Clinton Cards has branches in The Bridges, in Sunderland; The Galleries, in Washington, as well as two stores in Durham City.
There are fears that dozens of people working at those stores could find themselves out of a job following the announcement.
The move comes after Clinton’s banks – Barclays and taxpayer-backed Royal Bank of Scotland – sold the company’s loans of £35million to its biggest supplier, American Greetings.
Although the banks waived certain loan conditions in the arrangement, American Greetings said its intention was to push the company into administration.
The company employs 8,000 people nationally across 628 Clinton and 139 Birthdays stores.
Yesterday it requested that its shares be suspended on the London Stock Exchange.
The bad news comes just weeks after video game specialist Game, which also has branches in Sunderland city centre, Washington and Durham City, also went into administration.
This was compounded last month when it was revealed that the UK economy is experiencing a double-dip recession.
Clinton has reported poor trading figures in recent months after coming up against fierce competition from online retailers such as Funky Pigeon and Moonpig, which sell cards with personalised messages and greetings.
The business recorded a pre-tax loss of £3.7million in the 26 weeks to January 29 this year, compared with a profit of £11.7million in the previous year and warned that the second half of the year would be below expectations.
Its shares have lost more than 80 per cent of their value since the start of 2010.
Darcy Willson-Rymer, chief executive of Clinton Cards, has been carrying out a strategic review of the business over the past six months, which is understood to have included a fruitless search for a buyer for all of the business or even its Birthdays chain.
The chain was founded in 1968, when Don Lewin opened the first store in Epping, Essex.
In 1988 it had 77 stores when it floated on the stock market.
Its store numbers were swelled when the firm acquired Hallmark Cards and the Birthdays Group, which had 170 stores, in 2004.