Fashion chains Peacocks and Jaeger have gone into administration putting more than 4,700 jobs at risk.
It comes after owner Edinburgh Woollen Mill passed a deadline to find a buyer for the two brands, which between them have about 500 stores.
The group said it had to take the “desperately difficult” decision despite having been in “constructive discussions” with potential buyers in recent weeks.
“The continuing deterioration of the retail sector due to the impact of the pandemic and second lockdown have made this process longer and more complex than we would have hoped,” it said.
The announcement was the latest sign of the devastating impact the pandemic is having on businesses across the economy – and on the same day that ONS figures showed one in seven firms fear they will not make it beyond the next three months.
It came on the same day that energy giant E.On said it was planning to cut almost 700 jobs over the next two years as it migrates customers to a new platform.
Advisory firm FRP has been appointed to handle the administration of Peacocks and Jaeger.