Twenty one Harris Scarfe stores across five states will close over the next four weeks after the retailer was placed in receivership in December.

The administrators say 44 stores will continue to trade with the group offered for sale.

Deloitte Restructuring Services partner Vaughan Strawbridge says the move to close stores was a difficult decision but necessary to position the Harris Scarfe business for a successful sale.

“All efforts are being made to redeploy affected staff around the rest of the store network, and all staff that leave the business will receive all wages and entitlements in full on the closure of individual stores,” Mr Strawbridge said.

“Our review of the store network included a range of factors, including past and likely future profitability.

“Going forward, we certainly remain focused on running the broader store network and selling the business as the best outcome for remaining employees and suppliers.”

The stores to close are in Western Australia, Queensland, NSW, Victoria and South Australia and include the flagship Rundle Mall store in Adelaide.

The SDA retail union said the loss of the Rundle Mall store would bring an end to 170 years of trading in the city centre.

“This closure is the result of poor decision making that has driven its flagship store into an unprofitable position over the past 15 years,” the union said.

“Harris Scarfe Rundle Mall has provided work for countless South Australians and this is a huge loss for our state.”

The SDA also called on the federal government to address wider issues across the retail sector in the wake of poor sales.