FASHION chain Republic is expected to collapse into administration tomorrow, putting 1,000 jobs at risk as it becomes the latest in a string of high street casualties.

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The group has already lined up Ernst & Young to handle the administration, according to reports.

Republic, which is owned by private equity firm TPG, started in Leeds as a men’s denim retailer in 1986 and now has around 120 stores, including branches in Ipswich, Colchester, Chelmsford, Cambridge and Norwich, selling mens and womenswear brands including G-Star, Diesel and Firetrap.

Its woes follow a bleak start to the year for the retail sector, with a series of high-profile firms having hit the wall.

Thousands of jobs have been axed after music retailer HMV, camera group Jessops and DVD and games rental group Blockbuster called in administrators last month, with electricals chain Comet having collapsed before Christmas

It is understood that Republic has suffered amid poor trading in recent months, given the recent consumer spending pressures and its focus on the north of England - an area that has been hit particularly badly by the recession.

Chairman Andy Bond, a former Asda boss, is said to have stepped down last week after less than two years.

The chain recently hired ex-TK Maxx boss Paul Sweetenham as chief executive.

TPG bought Republic in June 2010 in a deal worth around £300million, with the founders understood to have retained a significant stake.

E&Y and Republic declined to comment.

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