Around 6,500 retail jobs are under threat as electricals chain Comet became the latest casualty on the high street.
The 240-strong chain confirmed plans for it to be placed into administration next week, marking one of the UK's biggest retail failures in recent years.
Staff were informed of plans on Thursday morning and restructuring specialist Deloitte has been lined up to handle the administration.
Comet said it was "urgently working" on plans to secure the company's future and it is expected that administrators will seek a buyer for the business.
Customers with outstanding orders and those with gift cards and vouchers are being told it is "business as usual until further notice" and that the group intends to fulfil deliveries of products that have been paid for. Comet's customer care team is handling inquiries on 0844 8009595.
The administration raises the prospect of a pre-Christmas rush for discounted stock, with the administrator expected to wind down supplies and raise cash for creditors.
News of the planned administration comes just months after Comet was taken over by investment firm OpCapita, which bought the chain for a nominal £2 in February.
It is thought OpCapita and recently-appointed chairman John Clare - the former boss of rival Dixons - had been unable to secure the trade credit insurance needed to safeguard suppliers.
Shares of Comet's rivals rose on news of the planned administration, with PC World and Currys parent Dixons Retail leaping by 15%.
Comet's collapse is one of the biggest since the demise of Woolworths in 2008 and comes a month after the failure of JJB Sports. Other recent casualties have included Clinton Cards, Blacks Leisure, Game and Peacocks. The high street electricals market in the UK has come under huge pressure as cash-strapped shoppers put off purchases of big-ticket items such as TVs and large appliances and online rivals take a bigger slice of the sector.