IT was a bleak day for retailing as two major names went into administration and a restaurant chain revealed plans to shut a third of its premises.

Toys R Us had been hoping to secure its future by closing 26 stores and downsizing others, including the Poole branch at Nuffield Road.

But it went into administration closely followed by Maplin, the electronics retailer that has branches at Poole’s Wessex Gate Retail Park, Bournemouth’s Commercial Road and Christchurch Retail Park.

Meanwhile, Prezzo – which has six restaurants locally – was reported to be closing up to 100 branches and shutting its Tex-Mex chain Chimichanga, which is also in the town.

These grim developments put scores of local jobs at risk, and follow the announcement that Marks & Spencer will close its store in Commercial Road, Bournemouth, next month.

By coincidence, they came as the Daily Echo revealed Bournemouth council had spent £49million buying the Mallard Road Retail Park, which includes such names as Smyths, Aldi and Homebase.

Administrator Moorfields Advisory said it would be conducting an “orderly wind-down” of Toys R Us stores.

Simon Thomas, Moorfields partner and joint administrator, said: “All stores remain open until further notice and stock will be subject to clearance and special promotions.

“We’re encouraging customers to redeem their gift cards and vouchers as soon as possible.

“We will make every effort to secure a buyer for all or part of the business.”

No more gift cards will be sold.

Toys R Us had been losing money for several years and hit cash flow pressures after poor Christmas sales.

Last year, it attempted to shore up its position by announcing a company voluntary arrangement (CVA) which would close loss-making stores and secure rent discounts on other sites.

Poole’s branch was said then to be “marginally profitable” but “underperforming” and was in line to become part of a new breed of smaller, revamped stores.

The collapse into administration of Maplin puts another 2,500 jobs at risk. It has 217 stores in the UK, including three locally – at Commercial Road in Bournemouth, Wessex Gate Retail Park in Poole and Christchurch Retail Park.

PwC is still attempting to find a buyer for the group.

Maplin chief executive Graham Harris said it had not been possible to secure a solvent sale of the business, so there was no alternative to administration. “During this process Maplin will continue to trade and remains open for business,” he said.

He added that the retailer has been struggling with the impact of the pound’s devaluation post the Brexit vote, a weak consumer environment and the withdrawal of credit insurance.

Jeff Bray (pictured inset), senior lecturer in marketing and retail management at Bournemouth University, said both stores had been unable to compete with online retailers.

He said private equity owners “have something to answer for” in both cases because the firms were heavily in debt.

“It’s absolutely no surprise at all, unfortunately,” he said of the Toys R Us collapse.

“I think it’s part of the radical changes that we’re seeing in the retail market. They’ve made their name on the basis of having the widest possible range of toys but that point of difference, that competitive edge, has been completely lost due to the internet.

“They simply couldn’t compete with Amazon or other online retailers in terms of depth of range so the only way they could compete is by offering better service or a more enjoyable shopping experience and sadly they’ve been under increasing pressure due to the ownership structure and the fact that it’s heavily debt-laden. They haven’t been able to invest in refurbishing stores, bringing a nice experiential displays.

“Quite how anybody could manage to make a toy shop boring, I don’t know.”

He added: “Maplin is an odd kind of retailer. Their success was based on holding a wide range of rather obscure products and parts and now it’s much more efficient to hold that centrally for next day delivery.”

Prezzo, also owned by private equity, is seeking a CVA in the coming days to back a plan which would close a third of its 300 outlets and shut its Tex-Mex chain Chimichanga.

There are two Prezzos in Bournemouth and one each in Christchurch, Wimborne, Blandford and Ringwood, as well as a Chimichanga on Westover Road, Bournemouth.