National photographic retail chain Photo-Optix Ltd has called in administrators and temporarily suspended trading, forcing the closure of all 12 stores, it has been confirmed.

The firm, which has been around for more than 50 years and employs around 70 staff, has also suspended its website and telephone mail order service.

Photo-Optix Ltd is now under the control of Smith & Williamson, a firm of chartered accountants who have been appointed administrators.

?We have temporarily closed all the stores while a full stocktake is undertaken,? said Joanne Milner, one of the joint administrators who specialises in corporate recovery and restructuring. She added: ?This is because there have been a lot of creditors who have claims for retention of title. So we can?t trade until we have got that sorted out basically.?

Milner explained that ?retention of title? is a technique creditors use to gain control over goods they have supplied until they have been paid for.

‘The shops are closed and I can’t say whether or not they will re-open. It depends on what the final outcome is as regards stock,’ she told us.

The administrators say they now need to determine whether creditors have ?valid claims?.

?We need to find out how much free stock is available to allow us to continue trading,? she said, adding that there was a possibility the firm could be sold to an interested party, provided any prospective buyer ?moves quickly?. She confirmed that the administrators are keen to talk to anyone willing to make an offer.

However, Milner warned that customers who have bought products with cash before the firm was taken into administration – but have not yet received their order – will find it difficult to make a successful claim against the company.

Those ordering by credit card stand more chance of getting a refund under conditions outlined by credit card companies, she told us.

Photo-Optix Ltd runs three stores in London (Westminster, Chelsea and Ealing), two in Glasgow, plus shops at Bracknell, Dorking, Guildford, Redhill, Windsor and Lakeside Shopping Centre in Essex. It also operates a store at Birmingham airport.

Industry sources have suggested that the company has been suffering financially in recent times.

Its head office is situated in Maidenhead, Berkshire.

Photo Optix shuts 10 stores, lays off staff