The retailer, which has 107-stores and concessions, appointed Birmingham-based administrator Andy Turpin of Poppleton & Appleby this morning in a move predicted by Retail Week on Monday.
Management told staff of the decision at lunchtime today .
Sources close to the retailer said there was "lots" of interest in the retailer.
The retailer said: "Following an assessment of the current economic situation and the prospects for the future, the directors have reluctantly decided that they have no alternative but to place the business into administration."
The news came after bailiffs are understood to have seized goods at a Viyella store in Guildford last week.
The retailer has 41 standalone stores and 63 concessions in department stores including House of Fraser, Elys, Bentalls, Allders and Fenwick. It also operates three outlet stores.