A BUDGET retailer has gone into administration putting 26 jobs and two stores at risk in south Essex.

Poundworld has become the latest High Street casualty to crumble under increasing pressure from competitors and falling numbers of town centre shoppers.

Across the country about 5,100 employees facing an uncertain future.

The big name bargain store has two major outlets in south Essex, one in Eastgate Shopping Centre, Basildon, and the other at the Pelican Retail Park, Rayleigh Weir, which has only been open to customer for a little over a year after opening its doors in 2017.

Last ditch attempts over the weekend to rescue the business failed but administrators at Deloitte confirmed there will no redundancies or store closures announced immediately with those decisions still to be made.

Restructuring bosses at Deloitte are currently trying to find a buyer for the stores, after talks with Alteri Investors and the company’s founder Chris Edwards both fell through.

The future for the 26 people who are currently employed by Poundworld, 15 of whom work in Basildon and 11 in Rayleigh remains uncertain.

The potential loss of the store could see it join the ranks of other high profile closures in the area, including Marks and Spencer, Maplin, and Toys ‘R’ Us.

Poundworld currently operates from 335 stores offering around 8,000 different product lines, the majority of which are priced at £1.

Poundworld has been plagued by losses in previous years, losing £17.1 million in 2016-17, three times the previous year’s losses of £5.4 million.

Clare Boardman, joint administrator, said: “The retail trading environment in the UK remains extremely challenging and Poundworld has been seeking to address this through a restructure of its business.

“Unfortunately, this has not been possible.

“We still believe a buyer can be found for the business or at least part of it and we are keeping staff appraised of developments as they happen.

“We thank all employees for their support at this difficult time.”

Some politicians have reacted angrily to the news, placing the blame for store closures directly on current political issues.

Essex MEP Alex Mayer said: “This is devastating news for the staff in stores across Essex.

“My thoughts are with staff at the branches in Harlow, Braintree, Chelmsford, Rayleigh, Basildon and Grays.

“Shoppers are facing another hole in their High Street.

“I blame Brexit.

“With the collapse in the value of the pound since Brexit, it costs far more to buy products from abroad.

“Brexit is destroying jobs and making people worse off right now – imagine how much worse it will be if the Tory hardliners have their way and get the hard destructive Brexit they want.”