Osborne Stationers, a high street chain founded nearly two centuries ago, has gone into administration placing 140 jobs at risk.
Directors at the Birmingham-based company took the decision amid the tough retail conditions it has faced since the start of the downturn in 2008.
Administrators at restructuring firm FRP Advisory were appointed last night and staff were being informed today.
Osbornes has 20 stores, mostly in the Midlands. It was founded as a printing business in Birmingham city centre in 1832 by Edward Corn Osborne.
A loyal customer base and reputation for quality had helped it trade through a hard retail environment since 2008 but continued losses over the last couple of years had driven it into administration, FRP said.
The administrators will review the financial position of the company and its store portfolio and manage the business as a going concern as they seek a buyer.
Steve Stokes, partner at FRP Advisory and joint administrator, said a "thorough sales process" of the
business would seek to secure its long-term future.
He added: "Osbornes is one of the oldest local businesses in the Midlands and has operated in Birmingham's town centre for just shy of two centuries, enjoying a tremendous amount of goodwill and support from all the regional and local communities in which it operates.
"Recently trading has been particularly hard, with Osbornes, like many other town centre retailers, suffering from further squeezes on consumers' discretionary spending that has impacted the high street, as well as being in a particularly difficult and competitive sector.
"Despite the continuing support of a loyal customer base, anticipated cash flow problems have prompted the need for the directors to seek the protection of administration whilst the business is restructured and marketed for sale."
Osbornes has seven stores in Birmingham, three in Warwickshire, three in Nottinghamshire, three in Leicestershire and single shops in Bristol, Tewkesbury, Worcester and Daventry.