Iconic Liverpool retailer Rapid Hardware has called in administrators.
Managing director Martin Doherty confirmed that the company’s bank, Royal Bank of Scotland, had appointed administrators to run the firm’s affairs.
The family business has traded in Liverpool since 1971 and in 2009 it moved into the former George Henry Lee building in the heart of the city’s retail district.
Staff at the Williamson Square store wept as Mr Doherty broke the news to them in a meeting in the canteen on Tuesday afternoon. It is understood he insisted on speaking to staff personally.
“It is heartbreaking,” he said. “Many of our staff have been with us for a long time – through thick and thin. They have sacrificed a lot to try to get us through. They are part of the family and I hate what’s happening to them.”
The store will open for business as usual on Wednesday under the control of administrators Duff and Phelps, a firm of global finance specialists.
Mr Doherty said he was disappointed that he and his management team had failed to strike a deal with the company’s bankers that would have allowed him to continue running the business.
And he appealed for a “white knight” investor to help rescue the stricken firm.
"I am talking about investors who would be prepared to sit down and talk about a deal," he said.