UK fashion chain Pilot has gone into receivership, owing at least £9 million to its suppliers.

The company said that slow Christmas sales had hampered its attempts to refinance, and that both its prices and products lacked the competitive edge to rival other trend-focused high street clothing stores.

Pilot is currently owned by Pilot International, which also operates the Designer Rooms and Pilot Outlet chains. Pilot International's majority owner, Hong Kong investment firm Retrofit, failed in its attempt to secure a buyer in 2004.

Administrators say that they have already found a buyer for half of the chain's 70 stores, with industry rumours hinting that Retrofit may be the buyer.

Pilot's two directors, which include founder Jeremy Whaley, are said to want to stay on with Designer Rooms. Whaley owns 16 per cent of Pilot International, while Retrofit has a 74 per cent stake in the company.