O'Briens Sandwich Bars today confirmed that its UK business has been placed in administration.

It said the move to put its 109 franchised outlets into the UK equivalent of examinership is an effort to restructure the business and to protect jobs.

The company, headed up by Brody Sweeney, said it is expected that most of its UK stores can remain open and preserve jobs, if reduced rental terms can be agreed with landlords.

'We are optimistic that a relatively small number of stores will be closed in the UK as part of the administration and that the restructured group can overcome the worst downturn in our industry since we commenced trading over 20 years ago,' Mr Sweeney said.

He also said that trading in Ireland remains challenging, with some shop closures since the start of the year. He said that conditions in Ireland are, if anything, worse than the UK.