Book retailer The Book People has filed for administration with just one week to go before Christmas.
PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) has been appointed as the administrator while the troubled firm looks for a buyer.
Founded in 1998 in Godalming, Surrey, The Book People has faced stiff competition from Amazon and other online retailers over the last decade.
The business will continue to trade and there are no plans to make any of the 393 employees redundant, PwC said.
As a result, customers should receive their orders in time for Christmas.
The majority of the business’s employees – 229 – are based in Bangor, Gwynedd.
The firm sells books, gifts, toys and stationery online and via a catalogue, often at discounted prices. It has an annual turnover of £50m and sells more than 17 million children’s books a year, PwC said.
The company, one of the UK’s largest independent book retailers, was acquired as part of a rescue deal in 2014 by private equity group Endless.
James Woolley, partner at Endless, said it had “worked hard” to secure the firm’s future and was “disappointed” not to have succeeded.
“The well-documented challenges in the retail environment, compounded by the strength of global online booksellers, has severely impacted operating cash flows over recent years,” he added.
Toby Underwood, joint administrator and restructuring partner for PwC, said it was now exploring a sale of the business.
“I appreciate the obvious concerns that staff in particular will have as we move towards Christmas,” he said.
“Whilst the administrators have funding to meet the payroll for December, the longer-term prospects for the business, staff, customers and suppliers will clearly be dependent upon whether a sale can be secured.”
It has been a tough year for the retail industry in the UK, with a net 1,234 stores disappearing from Britain’s top 500 High Streets in the first six months, according to accountants PwC