Allders store in Croydon goes into administration
Some 850 jobs are under threat after one of the biggest department stores left in London went into administration.
Allders has been open in Croydon since 1862 and became the flagship store of a chain across England.
Croydon Council said the firm had been unable to raise enough working capital.
The council said it was disappointed that despite its best endeavours, it was unable to stop the company from going into administration.'Heavy blow'
The department store employs 300 staff directly, while 550 people work for concessions.
End Quote Mike Fisher Leader, Croydon Council
We remain optimistic for the future of retail in the town”
The company's director, Andrew Mackenzie, said the "tough market conditions" in the UK retail sector had forced the board to appoint administrators.
He said he hoped additional investment or a sale could be achieved.
Gavin Barwell, Conservative MP for Croydon Central, said it was a "heavy blow" for the town following the riots in Croydon last year and Nestle's decision to leave in January.
Administrators said outstanding customer orders would be fulfilled. Council leader Mike Fisher said it was a very sad day for the area.
"Croydon is grappling with very difficult economic conditions and reduced spending power, and this shows how even the most long-established institutions are potentially threatened," Mr Fisher said.
"We remain optimistic for the future of retail in the town.
"Two of the country's largest retail developers remain keenly interested in our main shopping centre, Whitgift, and only a few weeks ago we approved Hammerson's plans for the remodelling and expansion of Centrale."'Quick resolution'
Mr Barwell said the priority now was on ensuring an agreement over the future of Whitgift.
Over the last few months there has been disagreement between the leaseholder and freeholder over whether retail estate company Hammerson or shopping centre group Westfield should redevelop the site.
Mr Barwell said: "We cannot afford to let it drag on for years."
He said he would be working with Mayor of London Boris Johnson to try to achieve a "quick resolution".