Discount retailer Steve & Barry's LLC is reported to be on the brink of bankruptcy, and needs rescue financing of about $30m to keep it going this year.

The company, which is one of the fastest-growing store chains in the US, could even be forced to seek Chapter 11 creditor protection within the next few weeks if it is unable to secure backing, The Wall Street Journal says.

A spokesman for Steve & Barry's declined to comment on the rumours when contacted by just-style.

The retailer's troubles are being blamed on its rapid expansion, with much of the company's earnings said to come from up-front payments from mall owners keen for the retailer to take over vacant sites, the paper says.

The privately owned firm operates around 270 stores selling casual clothing at less than $20 an item.

Its lines also include Bitten, the first-ever apparel line created by actress and fashion icon Sarah Jessica Parker, and the Starbury Collection of athletic and lifestyle apparel created with NBA star Stephon Marbury.