The struggling jewellery chain Links of London has fallen into administration, placing 350 jobs at risk.
The move followed a failed sale process initiated by its troubled Greek owner, Folli Follie, which was plunged into crisis over a fraud relating to overstated sales.
Sky News reported a month ago that Mike Ashley's Sports Direct was among two final bidders for the chain which trades from 28 stores and seven concessions.
Links is continuing to trade pending a potential pre-pack administration sale that could see some or all of the stores saved.
The news represents a new blow for the high street after some rare cheer earlier on Wednesday when it was announced that Hays Travel had bought failed Thomas Cook's retail operation for an undisclosed sum - saving as many as 2,500 jobs.
Chains with exposure to the high street have had it tough since last year when a toxic cocktail of weaker consumer spending combined with rising costs, from things such as business rates and rents, to push big names into trouble.
Toys R Us and Maplin were the first to go while even Sir Philip Green's Topshop empire was forced to go cap in hand to landlords for a rescue package called a Company Voluntary Arrangement (CVA).
Business services firm Deloitte, which oversaw the auction for the jewellery chain, has been appointed administrator.
Joint administrator, Matt Smith, said: "The company has had to contend with difficult trading conditions that have impacted the whole retail sector.
"The directors have been seeking alternative solutions, including consideration of a CVA, refinancing or sale, but have unfortunately been unable to conclude such a transaction.
"In light of ongoing cash flow pressures, this has left the directors with no choice but to place the business into administration."
Links was said to be losing upwards of £10m on sales of just £20m.