Doors close yet again at

Steve Dinneen
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Beleaguered clothing retailer Ethel Austin has gone back into administration just two years after it found an eleventh-hour saviour.

The 300-store firm looks set to finally close its doors after 76 years, with 3,700 jobs at risk.

Its sister company, homeware chain Au Naturale, has also gone into administration.

Ethel Austin was saved in 2008 when MK One boss Elaine McPherson bought it out of administration.

She promised to resuscitate it as a fashion force. But both stores struggled to overcome the slump and were hit especially hard by the January snow that kept shoppers from the high street. The chain also struggled to secure working capital amid the financial chaos.

The shops will continue to trade while the administrators seek a new buyer.

MCR has been appointed administrator. A spokesman said: “In the current economic climate there are no guarantees that purchasers will be found.”

He added: “We are reviewing the financial position of the companies and are at this stage unable to rule out store closures and redundancies.”

The store follows other high street names that fell victim to the recession, including Zavvi,
Woolworths, furniture group MFI, off-licence chain Threshers and bookstore Borders UK. Further insolvencies are expected despite the exit from recession.

Over 300 stores across the UK employ almost 3,700 staff
Store is in administration for the second time
High street slump and January bad weather blamed for finishing off the company