Entertainment store HMV has become the latest high street casualty as it announced it had been forced to call in administrators.
Following discussions among the music retailer's directors, the company last night announced it was ceasing trading in ordinary shares immediately - and had appointed accountancy giant Deloitte.
HMV, which employs more than 4,000 people, has stores at WestQuay, Southampton, Winchester, Newport, Basingstoke and Fareham.
It said in a statement: ''The board regrets to announce that it has been unable to reach a position where it feels able to continue to trade outside of insolvency protection, and in the circumstances therefore intends to file notice to appoint administrators to the company and certain of its subsidiaries with immediate effect.
''The directors of the company understand that it is the intention of the administrators, once appointed, to continue to trade whilst they seek a purchaser for the business.''
In the run-up to Christmas HMV's boss Trevor Moore warned the entertainment group was in trouble as he revealed the chain was in talks with banks over its future following worse-than-expected trading over the festive period.
The chief executive said market conditions suggested the group, which has 238 stores in the UK and Ireland, would fail to meet expectations for the year to April, so would not meet the terms of its bank loans.
HMV said like-for-like sales fell 10.2% in the 26 weeks to October 27, last year, as its pre-tax loss narrowed to £36.1 million, compared to £50.1 million the previous year.
Shares tumbled 39% after the dismal results were published, giving the retailer a market value of just £10.1 million.
Mr Moore joined the group from camera chain Jessops, which itself went into administration last week at the cost of 1,370 jobs across its 187 stores.
Suppliers including Universal Music came to HMV's rescue in January 2011 with a deal which helped the retailer shed some of its huge debt pile.
Its struggle has seen it sell off several parts of its business, including the Waterstones book retailer, to reduce its debt pile, while closing loss-making stores.
HMV also offloaded its Hammersmith Apollo venue for £32 million, which enabled it to thrash out a new deal with lenders.
Back in May, last year, when former boss Simon Fox was still in charge, the group said it was looking for pre-tax profits of at least £10 million for the 2012/13 financial year.
Here are a few facts about the 92-year-old music retailer:
- The chain was founded in 1921 with the arrival of its landmark store in Oxford Street.
- It was opened on July 20 that year by the composer and conductor Sir Edward Elgar.
- The company became known for its ''His Master's Voice'' trademark, the name relating to an 1898 painting of a dog called Nipper listening to a gramophone.
- Tragedy struck at the HMV store and offices in Oxford Street on December 26 1937 when the shop's caretaker William Travis died in a fire which destroyed the building.
- During the Second World War, the Oxford Street store stayed open for business while parent company EMI's record factory at Hayes, west London, was used for munitions manufacturing.
- The Waterstones book chain became part of the HMV stable in 1998 but was sold off in 2011 as the troubled music chain attempted to get its finances in order.
- The store developed into a live music and ticketing operator, owning a string of venues and bars including London's HMV Hammersmith Apollo.
- HMV now comprises around 238 outlets and 20 live entertainment venues and festivals.
- It employs more than 4,000 people.
- The chain operates from entertainment stores and websites in the UK and Ireland, Hong Kong and Singapore.