The High Court has appointed an interim examiner to fashion retailer A-Wear.
The chain, which employs more than 350 people across 30 stores in Ireland and Northern Ireland, blames its current difficulties on high rents and increased competition.
The company hopes that the vast majority of those jobs can be saved.
Mr Justice Peter Charleton appointed insolvency practitioner Mr Ken Fennell as interim examiner to Latzur Ltd, trading as A-Wear, after an independent accountant’s report said the company had a reasonable prospect of survival if certain steps were taken.
These steps include the examiner putting together a scheme of arrangement with the firm's creditors, which if approved by the High Court would allow the company to continue to trade as a going concern.
The court heard that obtaining a reduction in the rents the firm pays for its outlets will form an important part in the firm's future.
A-Wear was purchased by its current owners from receivers in 2012. While the current owners had reduced the firm's annual losses from €5 million to €2.5 million per year, they had taken things in certain regards "as far as they can."
High rents were "a significant problem" for the company, counsel said. Rent at its outlet in Dublin’s Grafton St counted for 28% of its revenues, counsel said.
In addition rent accounted for more than 15% of revenues at 17 other stores, which counsel said was "much too high". Counsel said a business plan put together by the company had identified which stores will need to close if agreements cannot be reached in relation to rents.
In addition to the high rents the company had faced increased competition from low cost competitors in the 18-35 years ladies fashion market. Steps have been taken by the company to reposition itself in that key area, counsel said, adding that some progress has already been made.
Counsel added the company's wholesale business and internet sales were profitable. It intends to expand this part of its business in conjunction with European partners in the event the examinership proves successful, counsel added.
Counsel said the appointment of an independent person, such as an examiner, would allow negotiations on rent agreements on A-Wear’s with landlords to commence. It would also ensure that vouchers, which make up a significant part of the business, would be honoured.
The examiner would also give confidence to A-Wear's suppliers to continue to provide products to the stores, counsel added.
In appointing Mr Fennell Mr Justice Charleton said there were "strong reasons" why an interim examiner should be appointed.
He agreed an examiner was required to open negotiations with the landlords over rental agreements, and ensure that vouchers are honoured.
The firms suppliers would also need to deal with an examiner during the period of protection, the Judge added.
The matter was adjourned to a date later this month.