Jones the Bootmaker was left teetering on the brink of administration on Thursday as a deal to buy the struggling shoe chain fell through at the last minute.
Turnaround specialist Endless and Jones’ private equity owner Alteri had reached an agreement, but things changed just hours before it was due to be signed, a source close to the negotiations said.
The development raised fears for the future of Jones’ 1100 employees, many of whom were expected to keep their jobs under the Endless deal.
Jones, which operates 100 stores, has struggled amid tough conditions on high streets brought on by intense competition and changing shopping habits.
Alteri, which bought it and discount chain Brantano for £12 million in 2015, put it up for sale last month. It filed a notice of intention to appoint an administrator last week.
Alteri is also offloading discount shoe retailer Brantano in a separate transaction, with Shoe Zone reportedly among the suitors.
Endless and Alteri declined to comment.