Camera retailer Jessops has collapsed into administration, threatening 2,000 jobs, it announced on Wednesday.
PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) has been appointed to the group, which is Britain's only specialist nationwide camera retailer, with nearly 200 stores.
It marks the first high-profile retail collapse of 2013 and comes soon after consumer electricals chain Comet hit the wall, sparking more than 6,000 job losses.
PwC said Jessops' profits over Christmas were worse than planned and it had also seen a "significant decline" in its core marketplace in 2012.
PwC said the factors had a "consequent impact on its funding needs".
Staff leaving Jessops' Leicester headquarters this evening said they had found out about the group's collapse from television reports.
Joint administrator Rob Hunt said: "Our most pressing task is to review the company's financial position and hold discussions with its principal stakeholders to see if the business can be preserved. Trading in the stores is hoped to continue today but is critically dependent on these ongoing discussions. However, in the current economic climate it is inevitable that there will be store closures."
PwC added that Jessops was not in a position to honour customer vouchers at present, and it would also not accept returned goods.
Retail analyst Nick Bubb said that with competition from smart phones and online retailers, Jessops' administration was "probably inevitable".
Jessops has struggled since 2007, when it underwent a major overhaul with a swathe of store closures.
It came close to collapse two years later before being rescued by its main lender HSBC in a controversial debt-for-equity swap that saw it taken off the stock market.
The collapse of Jessops comes after consumer electricals chain Comet hit the wall last year, sparking more than 6,000 job losses.
There was speculation last year that suppliers such as Canon were considering injecting cash into Jessops to help prop the business up, but no deal materialised.
The group last year also suffered the loss of its chief executive Trevor Moore, who left to head up HMV, as well as its chairman David Adams.
Martyn Everett was then appointed as chairman and Neil Old was promoted to lead the business as chief operating officer.
The firm began life in 1935 when Frank Jessop opened his first shop in Leicester.