COUNTRYWIDE, the Worcestershire-based firm supplying products and advice to the rural community, has gone into administration.

The Evesham based company is one of the UK's leading suppliers of agricultural goods including a range of farming, equestrian, harvesting and agricultural supplies, and employs more than 700 people and has 48 stores.

Administrators have been appointed from KPMG, which say no "initial redundancies" have been made.

The firm has stores across the county, including Malvern, Upton, Bromsgrove, and Ledbury, as well as the £4m headquarters which opened at Vale Business Park in Evesham in 2011.

A year ago the firm closed 14 stores and announced is was looking to sell off the remaining 53 stores.

At the time, a statement from the directors of Countrywide Farmers said: "It is clear to the board that the retail environment remains challenging and that to compete effectively for the long term will require further rationalisation of the cost base along with potential further investment."

It has been reported by the BBC that a potential sale of the firm to Mole Valley Farmers Ltd fell through last October, and a new buyer is now being sought.

David Pike, partner at KPMG and joint administrator, said: “Following the recent CMA announcement, the proposed retail transaction cannot proceed.

"Unfortunately, given the significant trading difficulties and cash flow pressures, this has led the directors to consider their options and take the difficult decision to place the company into administration.

“It is our intention to seek a purchaser for the business in whole or part and we have appointed Hilco Capital to assist in running the stores whilst we explore and develop available options. We encourage anyone who has an interest to contact us immediately.”

Countrywide was first established in 1902 as Bedford Farmers, before rebranding to Countrywide in 1999.