09/05/2012 08:13 BST | Updated 09/05/2012 10:05 BST

Clinton Cards 'To Be Placed Into Administration'

Embattled retailer Clinton Cards is set to lose its fight for survival after its largest supplier said it will force it into administration later today.

Clintons is the UK's biggest card retailer and employs more than 8,000 staff.

The retailer, which operates 628 Clintons and 139 Birthdays stores, has requested that its shares be suspended on the London Stock Exchange.

The move comes after its banks - Barclays and taxpayer-backed Royal Bank of Scotland - sold the company's £35m of loans to its biggest supplier, American Greetings.

But whereas the banks had waived loan repayments, American Greetings has said it will push the company into administration today.

Clintons has been on the retail critical list for months, after suffering increased competition from rivals such as Moonpig and WH Smith's Funky Pigeon website, which sell personalised cards.

Supermarkets and discount stores such as Poundland are also said to be treading on its toes.

Clintons recorded a pre-tax loss of £3.7 million in the 26 weeks to January 29, compared to a profit of £11.7 million in the previous year, and has already warned the second half of the year will be below expectations.

Its shares have lost more than 80% of their value since the start of 2010.

The chain was founded in 1968 when Don Lewin opened the first store in Epping in Essex.

In 1988 it had 77 stores when it floated on the stock market. Its store numbers were swelled by numerous acquisitions including Hallmark Cards and the Birthdays Group, which had 170 stores, in 2004.