Arcadia, the company that owns Topshop, Burton and Dorothy Perkins, has gone into administration, with 13,000 jobs and more than 450 shops at risk.
Business mogul Philip Green's high-street company has appointed Deloitte to help with the insolvency after the failure of talks over a £30 million ($39.9m) loan to help offset losses caused by the coronavirus.
The administration will protect the company's creditors while it looks for a buyer. Mr Green, 68, is not expecting a bid for any of his assets.
All online Black Friday orders will be honoured, Deloitte said.
Arcadia's brands are expected to continue to trade during the sale process and no immediate redundancies were made.
The group, which runs 444 shops in the UK and 22 abroad, said 9,294 employees were on furlough.
Earlier on Monday, British sportswear tycoon Mike Ashley’s Frasers Group offered a £50m loan to help the fashion empire avoid bankruptcy
But Mr Green did not consider Mr Ashley's offer a serious proposal, it was reported.
Mr Ashley owns Newcastle United Football Club and bought struggling department store chain House of Fraser in 2018.
"This is an incredibly sad day for all of our colleagues as well as our suppliers and our many other stakeholders," Arcadia chief executive Ian Grabiner said.
"The impact of the Covid-19 pandemic including the forced closure of our stores for prolonged periods has severely impacted on trading across all of our brands.
"Throughout this immensely challenging time our priority has been to protect jobs and preserve the financial stability of the group in the hope that we could ride out the pandemic and come out fighting on the other side.
"Ultimately, however, in the face of the most difficult trading conditions we have ever experienced, the obstacles we encountered were far too severe."
On Friday, Arcadia said that the coronavirus pandemic, which has closed shops, had a "material impact" on trading.
It said it was working on "contingency options" to salvage the future of its brands.