Bertram Books has collapsed into administration, making the majority of its 459 employees redundant with immediate effect.

Eastern Daily Press: Hundreds of people have been made redundant. Pic: ArchantHundreds of people have been made redundant. Pic: Archant

The bookseller, famously founded in a chicken shed in 1968 before moving to the Broadland Business Park, appointed joint administrators Turpin Barker Armstrong this week.

The company, which operates as Bertram Trading, entered administration alongside two subsidary brands: Education Umbrella and Dawson Books.

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A spokesman for the administrators said: “We can confirm that Bertram Trading Limited, the global book wholesaler, has entered administration along with Education Umbrella Limited, a supplier of textbooks and digital education resources and Dawson Books Limited, an academic and professional library supplier.

“Book wholesalers have suffered from falling demand in recent years due to changes in the distribution model for literature and the rising popularity of e-books. These factors, combined with the Covid-19 related closure of many public libraries and educational facilities, meant these businesses could no longer operate viably.

“Sales have been agreed in principle with two unconnected parties for the tangible assets and unencumbered stock of Bertram Trading Limited and for the intangible assets of Education Umbrella Limited and it is hoped that these will be completed shortly.

“Unfortunately, the majority of employees have been made redundant with immediate effect with a small number retained to manage the winding down of operations. We are liaising with all employees impacted regarding their statutory rights and to direct them to support from the relevant government agencies.”

Bertram Books has been under strain for a number of months.

In May its owner Aurelius said it was “reviewing its strategic operations” for the Bertram Books division.

Aurelias said at the time: “As a result of the economic uncertainty created by Brexit and more recently the Covid-19 pandemic, Aurelius is reviewing its strategic options for the Bertram wholesale division.”

Chief executive Dirk Markus had previously said the firm was financially stable but that management were taking a 25pc pay cut.

He added: “Over the coming weeks and months, we might have to make difficult decisions for some of our portfolio companies.”