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Women’s fashion retailers Oasis and Warehouse are expected to appoint administrators soon, putting about 2,300 jobs at risk.

The owner of the High Street brands, Icelandic bank Kaupthing, had been in talks to sell the businesses before the coronavirus crisis.

However, the crisis, which has seen many shops temporarily close, has knocked the legs from under the sale.

The fashion retailers are expected to appoint Deloitte as administrators.

There is expected to be interest from bidders to buy the business, a source said, but with the current economic uncertainty, it is not clear how many jobs ultimately could be saved.

As first reported by Sky News, after the administration begins, Deloitte is expected to furlough many of the employees who keep their jobs under the government Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.

The chains were forced to shut their 90 UK stores because of the coronavirus lockdown.

The group also has 437 concessions in department stores including Debenhams and Selfridges.

‘Broken back’

High Street retailers in the UK were facing a tough environment before the crisis, due to rising costs and changes in people’s shopping habits.

But the temporary closure of many shops due to the coronavirus pandemic has heaped more pressure on retailers.

Independent retail expert Clare Bailey said retailers had already been under strain for the last two or three years because of the uncertainty surrounding Brexit and its effect on consumer confidence.

“[Coronavirus] was the final straw of all the straws that broke the camel’s already very broken back,” she said.

Some retailers such as Primark have opted to cancel orders with their suppliers.

Meanwhile fashion chain New Look recently informed its suppliers that payment for stock already sitting in its shops or distribution centre would be delayed “indefinitely”.

Last week department store chain Debenhams, which employs about 22,000 staff, confirmed it had entered administration for the second time in a year.

Its 142 UK stores remain closed in line with Government guidance and the firm said it will work to ‘re-open and trade as many stores as possible’ when restrictions end.

At the same time floral fashion firm Cath Kidston filed for administration, putting 950 jobs at risk.