HMV staff in Northern Ireland are sweating on their jobs as the company appoints an administrator.
The music and DVD chain has 11 stores in the province which has put a dark cloud over their future unless a buyer can be found
Across UK, Notthern Ireland and the Republic around 4,350 jobs are at risk.
Administrator’s Deloitte will keep HMV’s 239 stores – including the 11 NI stores – open while it assesses the prospects for the business and seeks potential buyers.
Northern Ireland Independent Retail Trade Association (NIIRTA) Chief Executive Glyn Roberts said the news was “another big potential loss to the high street”.
“This is deeply concerning that another big name high street retailer is likely to close its doors so soon after Jessops ceased trading,” said Mr Roberts who held a meeting with Secretary of State Theresa Villiers on Monday to discuss the loss of business to traders in Belfast over the Union flag protest.
“Unless a buyer is found, HMV closing will be a big loss to our local town centres and footfall for neighbouring retailers.
“Quite simply we are losing too many retail chains and independent retailers and so we need radically new thinking to revitalise our retail sector.
“NIIRTA continues to engage with Ministers at Stormont and Westminster putting forward solutions to tackle this problem.”
Trading in HMV shares on the London Stock Exchange has been suspended, HMV said in a statement.
The firm said it would not be accepting gift vouchers or issuing any more.
HMV, which was started in 1921, has struggled against online retailing.
The company’s troubles underline the gloom on the High Street and come after a string of high-profile failures, including the closure last week of camera retailer Jessops and the collapse of electrical goods chain Comet last year.
In its statement, HMV said: “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 statement continued that the board “understand that it is the intention of the administrators, once appointed, to continue to trade whilst they seek a purchaser for the business”.
The company has been in financial crisis for more than a year, and on 13 December warned that it faced a possible breach of bank loan agreements, sending its share price plummeting.
The retailer, whose first store was opened in London’s Oxford Street in 1921, has faced intense competition from online retailers, digital downloads and supermarkets in recent years.
As its debts mounted, HMV sold off parts of the business, notably its live entertainment arm and the Waterstones book chain.
Last week, HMV announced a month-long sale with 25% off prices, sparking worries that the company needed to shift stock after poor Christmas trading. The Financial Times reported that the final straw came over the past few days when suppliers, including music labels and film companies, declined to help HMV with funding so that it could continue trading.
Chief executive Trevor Moore joined the firm last year from camera retailer Jessops, which has since closed.
Retail analysts said that although they believed the HMV brand “certainly has some value” for potential buyers, the current business model was dead.
“The bottom line is that there is no real future for physical retail in the music sector,” said one.