Investment funds are among the groups understood to be circling Laura Ashley after the brand's collapse into administration this week.

And administrators have confirmed staff at the Newtown factory will continue to be paid in March as it seeks a buyer.

The historic Powys business collapsed into administration this week, and closed 70 shops.

According to reports this week, a number of funds are now interested in buying the stricken brand, and administrators have confirmed that "solid expressions of interest" have already come forward.

Reports suggest that among the interested parties are Hilco, which owns Homebase, previously bought HMV out of administration, and which had been in talks about an injection of funding before Laura Ashley's collapse.

Retail Realisations, which has worked on the liquidation of retailers including Comet and Austin Reed, is among the other names linked to a deal.

And Authentic Brands Group is also reported to be mulling a move, which would put Laura Ashley under the same umbrella as US magazine Sports Illustrated and the image rights for Elvis Presley and Marilyn Monroe.

Laura Ashley's first shop was opened in Machynlleth in 1961, and had a factory in Carno. It still has factories on the Mochdre and Vastre Industrial Estates in Newtown.

PriceWaterhouse Cooper, which is handling the administration, said that as well as its stores, the group has "significant operations" in Newtown, Coalville in Leicestershire and Chelsea.

“In the current environment, we understand that the staff at the closed stores will have significant concerns, and so we will be working closely with them, given it is very likely that redundancies will have to be made," said joint administrator Rob Lewis.

"Our support to those staff during this difficult time will include working with various agencies and employers who have vacancies.

"We will also, of course, be providing support to those staff at stores that remain open and the many staff in the group’s operations in Newtown, Chelsea and Coalville.

“We have secured funds to ensure all staff will be paid their March wages as normal."