MORE than 500 jobs are at risk after the retailer Bathstore went into administration.

Customers waiting for bathrooms to be fitted have been told that installations have stopped immediately.

Administrators have pledged to fulfil orders subject to stock availability.

The business’s 135 stores include branches at Bournemouth’s Castlepoint and Meteor Retail Park in Christchurch.

All shops will continue trading while administrators at BDO seek a rescue buyer.

The collapse comes after a failed sales process for the business, which has been owned by American billionaire Warren Stephens since he backed a management buyout in 2014.

Ryan Grant, business restructuring partner at BDO, said: “Despite significant investment into the business over the past five years, Bathstore has struggled to overcome the well-documented challenges facing the UK retail sector. The appointment was made after several months of difficult trading, and the failure of ongoing talks to find a buyer for the business.

“Bathstore is continuing to trade in administration, whilst the administrators seek a buyer.”

The company employs 531 people in stores and head office.

The failure is another blow for British retailing, reeling from a list of administrations and closures.

Sellers of big-ticket items such as furniture and home fittings have faced particular challenges as consumers hold back on making major purchases amid economic uncertainty.

In the home and furniture sector, Carpetright was among those to shutter stores and ask for rent reductions last year. Bed maker Warren Evans and furniture seller Fabb Sofas both went into administration in 2018, though the former reappeared in a new form online earlier this year.

Kitchenware company Steamer Trading is disappearing after being bought out of administration by competitor ProCook. The Bournemouth branch closed in January, while branches at Westquay Shopping Centre and Lymington High Street were among eight selected for closure by the new owners. The remaining 13 are being rebranded as ProCook.