THOUSANDS of jobs are hanging in the balance after a triple blow rocked the retail sector.

Embattled operators Toys ‘R’ Us and Maplin both fell into administration today (Wednesday, February 28), citing increased trading pressures fuelled by the weaker pound and soaring inflation.

Meanwhile, restaurant chain Prezzo edged closer to a restructure that will see up to 100 sites shut.

The combined impact of the moves could affect more than 6,000 jobs.

Toys ‘R’ Us, which complements a base on Teesside Retail Park, near Stockton, with outlets in Gateshead and Sunderland, is now in the hands of administrators after failing to find a last-minute buyer to save the business.

The beleaguered operator had been grappling with a £15m tax bill and money owed to lenders, having previously unveiled a plan to shut loss-making stores and secure deep discounts on rental costs.

Electronics retailer Maplin, whose product portfolio stretches from drones to dash cams, said it had found it “impossible to raise” the capital needed to shield itself from tough high street conditions.

And Prezzo, which has restaurants in Darlington and Catterick Garrison, North Yorkshire, is believed to be close to launching a Company Voluntary Arrangement (CVA), which will allow the Italian-themed chain to exit unprofitable branches and secure rent reductions on its remaining estate.

Administrator Moorfields Advisory says all Toys ‘R’ Us stores will continue trading until further notice, with much of their stock subject to clearance discounts and special promotions.

Simon Thomas, Moorfields partner and joint administrator, said: “We will be conducting an orderly wind-down of the store portfolio over the coming weeks.

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

“While this process is likely to affect many Toys ‘R’ Us staff, whether some or all of the stores will close remains to be decided.”

PWC, overseeing the future of Maplin, which has a store on Pity Me’s Arnison Retail Park, on the outskirts of Durham City, future, confirmed it too will continue trading as normal as talks take place to find a buyer.

Toby Underwood, joint administrator and PWC partner, said all workers have been paid their February wages and will continue to pick up their salaries while the business is in administration.

He added: “The challenging conditions in the UK retail sector are well documented.

“Like many other retailers, Maplin has been hit hard by a slowdown in consumer spending and more expensive imports as the pound has weakened.

“Our initial focus will be to engage with parties who may be interested in acquiring all or part of the company.”

A total of 100 of Prezzo’s 300 outlets have been earmarked for closure, as well as its Tex-Mex chain Chimichanga.

Prezzo, which is owned by private equity firm TPG Capital, employs 4,500 people.