The troubled Molly’s Den vintage emporium chain has gone bust with 26 people losing their jobs.

Yesterday the Winchester branch in Easton Lane - where independent traders rent stalls to sell vintage, retro and antique goods – was shuttered and empty, less than 24 hours after shocked traders started to receive the news.

The news comes less than two months after the former company director, John East-Rigby, died at his New Forest home of a gunshot wound to his head.

Molly’s Den traders had just paid their July rental which can be up to £500 a month for the largest pitches before news of the closure came.

One trader has claimed that the month’s collective rental for the three Molly’s Den stores – there are two branches in Dorset – could be as much as £50,000.

A trader at the Winchester Molly’s Den, who asked not to be named, said: “I got a phone call yesterday at 4.15pm saying what had happened so I contacted the manager later on and he said that the administrators or liquidators just went in and changed the locks on the doors and made them all redundant.”

He had just paid his share of a £525 a month stall fee and calculates that if he loses the money from sales already made, he will be more than £1,000 out of pocket.

Liquidators RSM Restructuring Advisory said it had been instructed to assist in placing M D Emporium, the company which owns the Molly’s Den brand, into liquidation.

“Trading at all of the company’s sites in Winchester, Bournemouth and Christchurch ceased on July 2 2019 with all 26 staff having to be made redundant,” they said, adding that their agents, Proudley Associates of Ringwood, were ‘liaising with traders in order to have their goods collected’.

In a separate statement to traders, Proudley’s, which is trying to sell the Molly’s Den brand, confirmed it would be opening the three sites next week for traders to collect their wares.