Baugur, the conglomerate that owns Iceland and DBC Foodservice, as well as UK retail giants Debenhams, House of Fraser and Hamleys, was yesterday on the brink of administration as creditors moved to call in their debts.

Icelandic lender Landsbanki moved to recoup its £1bn debt after calling in PricewaterhouseCoopers to oversee Baugur’s administration.

The news prompted retailers owned by Baugur to distance themselves from the troubled group and insist they would continue to trade as usual.

Frozen food specialist Iceland is regarded by many analysts as the ‘jewel in the crown’ of the Baugur empire.

The chain, which in December moved to add 50 new UK outlets after taking on a raft of former Woolworths sites, has been the subject of takeover speculation for a number of months, with Iceland CEO Malcolm Walker understood to be looking to raise finance for a bid.

Baugur owns 13% of Iceland’s shares and 50% of DBC’s equity.