Value clothing chain Ethel Austin has collapsed into administration for the fourth time in as many years, putting 500 jobs at risk.

The troubled retailer said the move follows a marked downturn in sales brought on by the economic difficulties facing the UK.

Parent company Ashloch operated 48 stores across the UK under the Ethel Austin and Life & Style banners.

In a statement sent to just-style, administrators Duff & Phelps said: "At this stage redundancies and/or store closures affecting the Company's circa 500 staff cannot be ruled out."

Duff & Phelps said it is reviewing the retailer's financial position but is continuing to trade the business while seeking a buyer.

Last June, Life & Style went in to administration for effectively the third time for the company in three years. Two months later, businesswoman Sue Townsend rescued the retailer, saving 470 jobs.

A year before, Elaine McPherson, former owner of Ethel Austin rescued the business out of administration for the second time, following the shuttering of 81 stores a month earlier.