The Identity women's clothing chain, which has 16 stores around the country, has been put into receivership.

The receivers said yesterday afternoon the stores will continue to trade.

Identity was started in 1985 and its website claims it has since "grown to become one of the leading fashion retailers in New Zealand". It stocks products at a range of price points, and its website advertises jackets for more than $500.

It is operated by Winters Fashions, a company directed by David, Martyn and Pauline Winter.

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The business and the company's assets are now in control of receivers William Black and Kare Johnstone.

"Identity stores will continue to trade while we work with Identity's stakeholders, management and staff over the coming days to stabilise operations in order to facilitate a
thorough assessment of the company's financial position and to prepare the business for sale," Black said in a statement.

The receivers did not respond to questions yesterday afternoon about many people work for the company, nor the identity of the creditor who appointed them or how much owed.

There are seven Identity stores in Auckland, two in Hamilton, and one each in Lower Hutt, Palmerston North, Tauranga, Wellington, Christchurch and Dunedin.