LIQUIDATION specialists GA Europe have acquired the debt of department store chain TJ Hughes for an undisclosed sum.

The 57-strong Liverpool based business went into administration last week.

Now the future of its premises and 4,000 employees hangs in the balance.

The discount company, which has a shop on Sankey Street, is currently holding a closing down sale.

GA Europe will now work with administrators Ernst and Young by trading the stores to look at the options available.

Ernst and Young had previously hoped that a buyer or buyers could be found for at least a part of the ailing business.

A spokesman said: “Those efforts are continuing but, in view of the trading history, it is probable that a significant number of the stores will close.”

TJ Hughes was the subject of a management buy-out in 2003 but has struggled for some time against a difficult market background.

The business was sold in March this year to turnaround specialists Endless.

A GA Europe spokesman said: “Despite the injection by Endless of significant additional funds for working capital, TJ Hughes has continued to suffer and its financial difficulties reached a point where it could no longer continue to trade solvently.”