The footwear retailer Office has been put up for sale by its South African owner as it becomes the latest chain to seek new funding amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Sky News has learnt that Alvarez & Marsal (A&M), the professional services firm, has been hired by Truworths International to run an accelerated sale process for Office.
The prospects for a solvent sale of the business, which trades from 130 stores in the UK and Europe, were unclear on Wednesday.
Information sent to prospective bidders said it was “anticipated that a sale will be completed within a short time-frame”.
A&M is running a similar process for Cath Kidston, the modern vintage fashion brand which filed a notice of intention to appoint administrators nearly a fortnight ago.
Office considered a formal restructuring process called a company voluntary arrangement (CVA) last year but ultimately decided against using such a mechanism to close unprofitable stores.
Instead, it concluded a refinancing in September, and said it would shut unwanted shops when their leases expired.
It is unclear whether, like many retailers, Office declined to pay its rent to landlords at the end of March.
Truworths bought the Office chain in 2015 in a deal worth about £250m.
In addition to its UK estate, it trades from stores in Germany and Ireland.
The news of its accelerated sale process comes as the high street prepares for confirmation of the administration of Oasis and Warehouse, the women’s fashion retailers, putting 2300 jobs at risk.
A&M and Office declined to comment.