WHOLESALER Palmer & Harvey (P&H) has gone into administration, with 2,500 jobs lost with immediate affect.
Another 1,500 additional jobs could be at risk following failed attempts to secure a lifeline for the troubled company, according to reports.
Professional services firm PwC will tackle the administration process, according to Sky News, despite P&H, which has a warehouse on Barnes Wallis Road in Fareham, revealing in October that it had entered exclusive takeover talks with the Carlyle Group.
P&H, the UK’s biggest supplier of cigarettes, employs 4,000 people and provides alcohol, groceries and frozen food to 90,000 retail accounts, including Tesco.
Matthew Callaghan, joint administrator and PwC partner, said: ‘This is a devastating blow for everyone who has been involved in the business.
‘The administration team will focus on working with employees, clients and suppliers to facilitate a smooth and effective wind-down or transfer of operations over the next few weeks.
‘The P&H Group has faced a challenging trading environment, and the need for significant restructuring has been recognised for some while.
‘The company has insufficient cash resources to continue to trade beyond the short term and the directors have concluded that there is no longer any reasonable prospect of a sale.
‘Therefore, the directors have had no choice but appoint administrators.’