Past Times, on the brink of collapse, was in talks with a potential rescuer Tuesday, a source close to the company said.

The nostalgia-themed gift shop chain was due to appoint administrators today, after a 10-day gap required by the courts elapsed, but the source said the group had applied for a further 10-day stay of execution.

Past Times has 100 stores, employing about 1,000 people selling items based on historical periods like the Second World War and the 1950s.

It was unclear whether the talks were about buying all or part of the group but the source said the retailer would not have applied for the extension if there were not a serious prospect of a deal.

The group, which is owned by Epic Private Equity, gave notice on December 29 that it would appoint administrators, joining other chains such as Blacks Leisure and La Senza in falling victim to tough trading conditions on the high streets.

The company declined to comment.

(Reporting by Paul Sandle; Editing by Elaine Hardcastle)