Sports clothing retailer Allsports has fallen into administration, putting 1,700 jobs at risk.
Administrator BDO Stoy Hayward yesterday said the 267-store chain had been hit by a " significant" decline in like-for-like sales and a price war amongst sportswear retailers.
It said trading would continue as normal while decisions on what action to take were made, but Dermot Power, partner at BDO Stoy Hayward, said there would be a " significant" number of store closures, although it was too early to say how many.
The remaining stores will continue to operate while the administrators weigh up any offers for the remaining part of the business. But, Mr Power did not believe there would be a swift sale.
He said: "The business faces numerous challenges. We need to assess the issues quickly and take the necessary actions to allow the business to move forward.
"Whilst we are assessing the situation it is our intention to continue trading as normal."
He said Stockport-based Allsports had been hit by changing trends in the retail sector, with operators moving towards either the value or fashion ends of the market. Allsports had been left in the middle since it did not operate in any particular niche.
BDO also confirmed Allsports founder and chairman David Hughes had secured a deal to buy £10 million of the company's debt from Barclays.
This debt will take priority over that owed to suppliers and to Premiership football team Charlton Athletic, which is thought to awaiting a substantial amount in sponsorship fees by Allsports.
Majority shareholder Mr Hughes is said to want to buy the hub of the business but it is thought he will face competition from the owner of rival Sports World.
Allsports is the latest in a series of retailers to be hit by the slowdown in consumer spending. The news comes days after retailer Furnitureland went into administration due to weak trading conditions.
It also follows the collapse of 143-year-old department store chain Allders, which went into administration in January, and Courts last year.
Allsports, which has been hit by a price war involving operators such as JJB Sports and Sports World, recently put itself up for sale but was unsuccessful in finding a buyer.
Nick Bubb, retail analyst at Evolution Securities, said Allsports was once a very successful chain but had been hit by the success of Sports World with its large out-of-town stores.
He said: "Allsports tinkered with the out-of-town format, but without the backing of sports equipment it's just another clothing store."
Mr Bubb believed rival JD Sports could look at the possibility of buying some sites.
The demise of the chain will also come as a blow to private equity firm 3i, which has a 30 per cent stake in the business.