BHS has filed for administration, putting 11,000 jobs at risk.
Administrators Philip Duffy and Benjamin Wiles of Duff & Phelps said BHS had “no alternative but to put the group into administration to protect it for all creditors”.
The group will continue to trade as normal while administrators look for someone to buy the chain.
The high street store has been unable to find £60 million in emergency funding needed to pay wages and rent and stop it going under.
A BHS spokesman did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
On Twitter, BHS responded to events with a smiley emoji a tweet: "Good morning! It's another busy day here at BHS. We will be here till 11pm tonight to answer everyones questions. Have a nice day."
This tweet was later deleted alongside another, apparently scheduled, "happy Monday" tweet.
According to a letter to staff seen by the FT, wages are covered until the end of the month.
The letter to staff was written by Dominic Chappell, an ex-racing driver with chequered financial history, who led a group of investors under the name Retail Acquisitions which bought BHS from Topshop-owner Philip Green last year.
He ended his letter: “I would like to say it has been a real pleasure working with all of you on the BHS project, one I will never forget, you all need to keep you heads held high, you have done a great job and remember that it was always going to be very very hard to turn around.”
Jon Copestake, chief retail and consumer goods analyst at the Economist Intelligence Unit, said BHS "simply stopped being relevant".
"BHS has long been seen as an anachronism on the high street and it is surprising that it has survived this long. Visitors to BHS outlets, even in prime locations on key shopping dates will have been struck by how quiet they have been. The chain simply stopped being relevant to shoppers," he said.
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