Two of the UK’s best-known retailers, Toys R Us and the electronics specialist Maplin, have collapsed into administration on the same day, putting 5,500 jobs at risk.
Administrators said they were still hoping to sell all or part of the two firms, which have struggled amid competition from internet giants such as Amazon and the weight of debts racked up by private equity backers.
If no buyers can be found, about 3,000 staff at Toys R Us and a further 2,500 at Maplin are facing redundancy, potentially adding to a flurry of job losses so far in 2018.
Carillion and the bedmaker Warren Evans have also folded, endangering thousands of jobs, while staff cuts have been announced at Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Marks & Spencer, British Gas, Debenhams and New Look. As investors watched for signs of stress in other retailers, shares in the children’s clothes firm Mothercare slumped by 9% to an all-time low.
Labour called on the government to hold talks with trade unions, Toys R Us and Maplin to ensure that jobs were safeguarded. It urged ministers to address weakness on the high street, a week after official figures showed unemployment rising at its fastest rate for five years.