Empire Direct has gone into administration, as the UK high street shows further evidence of decline.

The chain, of 14 branches and a big online store, will see the loss of 350 jobs from the 25-year-old Yorkshire-based company.

Empire Direct is said to have been hit with poor Christmas sales as spending was "reined in" in the UK, as well as the loss of credit insurance which gives suppliers protection if the retailer defaults on debt.

"Empire Direct has been severely affected by the economic downturn and experienced a significant reduction in sales from the middle of last year", said administrator Mark Firmin from KPMG.

"The business really suffered when credit insurers withdrew cover in October. Low stock levels and operating losses mean the business cannot continue to trade in administration".