Privately-owned shoe retailer Famous Footwear has been forced to call in the administrators in a move that puts more than 300 jobs at risk.

The loss-making chain appointed Duff & Phelps as administrators after restructuring specialist GA Europe acquired Famous Footwear's debt.

A spokesperson for GA Europe said the retailer "found the general market background extremely difficult". He told just-style that GA Europe will conduct a clearance sale of the stock, and that most of the stores will close unless Duff & Phelps find a suitable buyer.

Famous Footwear operates 21 leasehold stores and 24 concessions in UK department stores such as Beales and House of Fraser selling footwear under the Caterpillar, Hush Puppies, Lotus, Loake and Reiker brands. It also has shops at the McArthurGlen and Realm outlet centres.

The retailer employs 313 people at its stores and head office and reported turnover of GBP15m (US$23.8m) in 2011.

Famous Footwear was acquired in 2008 by shareholders in the Jacobson Group shoe sourcing and distribution business who wanted to secure a direct retail route to market for their own shoes.