Alexon Group Plc has been sold to private equity firm Sun Capital Partners, just hours after the struggling women's fashion retailer called in KPMG as administrators and trading in its shares was suspended.

"The administrators have today sold the group's business to Sun Capital Partners LLP, securing continuing employment for the group's staff," a brief statement on the London stock exchange said.

The so-called "pre-pack" transaction lets the buyer take on the business without being saddled with the company's substantial debts.

Alexon, which also owns the Kaliko, Eastex and Ann Harvey brands, has over 990 stores and concessions throughout the UK and Europe. But it had failed to secure additional funding ahead of the seasonal peak in working capital requirements.

Earlier this month the company said it was considering a sale of the business as one of a number of options to restructure the struggling firm, after admitting that full-year profits are set to be "well below" expectations. The profit downgrade was triggered by a 9% same-store sales decline over the first three weeks of August.

But earlier today (29 September) it admitted efforts to sell the company or its brands, or to secure alternative debt financing "failed to reach a satisfactory conclusion in the time available.

"It became clear that the group was unable to continue trading as a going concern."

Recent apparel investments by Sun Capital Partners include Amsterdam-based fashion brand Scotch & Soda and Dutch department store retailer Vroom & Dreesmann.