Liverpool-based department store group TJ Hughes has appointed Tom Jack and Simon Allport at Ernst & Young as joint administrators.
Private equity firm Endless bought TJ Hughes in March for a nominal amount in a bid to rescue the business after the company lost £10m in 2010.
On Monday, TJ Hughes announced it intended to appoint administrators, putting into doubt the future of 57 stores and 4,000 staff.
Jack said: "The retail environment has been particularly tough during the first six months of this year and TJ Hughes has struggled against a backdrop of reduced consumer spending and increased competition. Whilst management have tried to reinvigorate sales performance and control costs, it has unfortunately not been possible for the business to continue to trade outside of insolvency."
Jack and Allport are seeking offers for the sale of the business as a going concern. Jack added: "TJ Hughes will continue to trade as we look for a buyer of the chain. It is very much business as usual and we are grateful to the chain's loyal customers, employees and suppliers for their continued support."
TJ Hughes was founded in 1912.