Plastics retail chain Payless has gone into receivership.
Receiver Rowan Chapman said 11 stores, which employ around 90 staff, went into receivership last week but were still trading.
Four Payless franchise stores in Taupo, New Plymouth, Palmerston North and Tauranga were not in the hands of receivers, he said.
Chapman said the receivers intended to keep the 11 stores operating while the potential outcome of the receivership was assessed.
Some stores may be closed, he said. "The intention is to maximise the value of the assets."
Chapman said the receivers were looking to sell the business as a going concern, and had already received two inquiries from potential buyers.
Payless had been under financial pressure because of difficult trading conditions and high overheads, he said.
Chapman said staff had been placed on casual contracts since the receivership took place.
Payless Plastics was bought out of receivership by John and Vicki Arbuckle in 2006.
The couple changed its name to Payless the following year - and its stores have since become known as Payless The Stock Liquidators.
Christchurch-based John Arbuckle, who founded the Arbuckles manchester chain, which closed in 2008 after being bought by Kathmandu founder Jan Cameron, declined to comment on the receivership yesterday.
Paul Keane, executive chairman of retail consultancy RCG, said Payless' difficulties were a sign of the times.
The company had been facing increased competition from big discount retailers including The Warehouse and Briscoes, he said.
"I think the consumer probably has other options."
Payless Plastics faced difficulties in 2001 when a group of its retailers defected to set up a new chain, Plastic Box, which subsequently became known as Storage Box.
Storage Box operates 23 stores around New Zealand, according to its website.
Payless operates two stores in Auckland.
According to a 2008 media report the firm was running 14 outlets that year, and Arbuckle was reported saying he wanted to open another 11 over the next two years. He had poured "a hell of a lot of money" into the plastics retailer, the report said.By Christopher Adams Email Christopher