By Paul McGurk
Around 2,000 jobs are at risk at the camera chain Jessops, as it became 2013's first high-profile high street casualty.
Administrator PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) said closures at the specialist store are "inevitable" after funding talks with the lender and its suppliers collapsed.
The Leicester-based group, which has suffered amid the boom in mobile phone cameras in recent years, has also been badly hit by competition from online retailers.
PwC said Jessops' Christmas period profits were below expectation levels, and it had also seen a "significant decline" in its core marketplace over the year, leading to an impact on the firm's funding needs.
Some staff only found out the news from television reports as they turned up for work at the Leicester HQ.
Joint administrator Rob Hunt said the most pressing task ahead is to look over Jessops' financial position and speak to stakeholders in order to gauge how much of the business can be salvaged.
"Trading in the stores is hoped to continue today but is critically dependent on these ongoing discussions," he said - warning, however, that store closures are "inevitable" in the present economic conditions.
The administrator added that Jessops cannot honour customer vouchers at the moment, and is not in a position to accept returned goods.
Analyst Nick Bubb said Jessops' fate was sealed owing to smartphone and online retail competition. The firm has been struggling for nearly six years, when it was overhauled with a number of stores being closed.
HSBC stepped in to save the group when it skirted around the edge of collapse two years previously, as part of a debt-for-equity deal which saw the group taken off the stock market.
Jessops' collapse follows that of electricals chain Comet, leading to more than 6,000 jobs lost.
Speculation had circulated over supplier Canon putting funding into Jessops, but the deal did not take place.
The group's chief executive Trevor Moore jumped ship last year for HMV, along with its chairman David Adams.Neil Old was promoted to chief operating officer, while Martyn Everett was named as chairman.
The firm initially began life when Frank Jessop opened his first shop in Leicester back in 1935.