Thirty staff working for Clinton Cards have been given notice that their jobs are at risk after the shop chain went into administration last night (Wednesday 9 May).
The administrator, Zolfo Cooper, which handled the demise of Sussex Stationers last year, said that it hoped to sell Clintons as a going concern.
It said that 13 staff at the branch in Churchill Square, Brighton, 6 in Western Road, Brighton, and 11 in George Street, Hove, were still working normally.
And the stores were still open and trading, with the administration blamed on cash flow problems.
Peter Saville, a partner at Zolfo Cooper, said: “Recently Clintons has been faced with extremely challenging trading conditions, particularly in its Birthdays subsidiary, where the combined cost to the group in terms of acquisition cost and accumulated losses is estimated to have been in excess of £130 million since 2004.
“Despite evaluating ways to restructure its business, Clintons was unfortunately unable to secure adequate support or funding for its restructuring plans.
“The challenging business environment, and in particular the increased competition for greetings cards and related products, meant that the group required radical restructuring and administration was the last remaining option available.
“Our first priority is to stabilise the business and assess its financial position. We will continue to trade the business while we undertake a full marketing exercise to find buyers for all or parts of the group so that the best possible outcome can be achieved for stakeholders.
“It is likely that a number of stores will need to be closed in order to make the business financially viable.
“However, Clinton Cards and Birthdays are very well-known brands on the high street and we believe that there is a strong underlying core business.
“We are therefore confident that it is an attractive proposition for a range of potential buyers and welcome expressions of interest from third parties.”
Mr Saville is one of the three joint administrators from Zolfo Cooper along with fellow partners Simon Freakley and Anne O’Keefe.
Clinton Cards, which was founded in 1968, is Britain’s biggest specialist greetings cards retailer with more than 750 shops.
In the six months to Sunday 29 January the Clintons group made a £734,000 operating profit before exceptional items.
Clintons shops contributed a £3.6 million profit while the Birthdays shops lost £2.8 million as like-for-like sales fell 1.1 per cent.
The underlying business has remained strong despite some customers switching to online greetings and a recent sharp rise in the cost of postage stamps.