Staff at House of Fraser stores in Sheffield and Doncaster are waking up to the news this morning that the company is set to go into administration.
The company, which has a department store in Meadowhall, Sheffield and one in Doncaster, has been trying to find a buyer to invest and turn the business around.
Chinese firm C.banner pulled out of a rescue deal earlier this month but House of Fraser said it is confident that a buyer will be found.
The retailer said 'significant progress has been made' in reaching a sale of the group's business and assets.
Ernst and Young, which is expected to be appointed as administrators today, is expected to continue discussions in the hope of reaching a deal 'shortly after their appointment'.
Alex Williamson, chief executive of House of Fraser, said: "We are hopeful that the current negotiations will shortly be concluded.
"An acquisition of the 169-year-old retail business will see House of Fraser regain stability, certainty and financial strength.
"In the two weeks since the Cenbest and C.Banner transaction ceased, the directors have brought forward a number of potential buyers and the group's financial advisors have run a comprehensive M&A process to identify and then develop other third party interest that has culminated in the senior secured creditors leading negotiations with parties at a critical pace."
House of Fraser chairman Frank Slevin added: "This has been an extraordinarily challenging six months in which the business has delivered so many critical elements of the turnaround plan.
"Despite the very recent termination of the transaction between Cenbest and C.Banner, I am confident House of Fraser is close to securing its future."
House of Fraser, which employs 17,500 workers, including 11,500 concession staff, said the business would continue trading, including all stores and offices, while attempts are made to complete a sale.
Of the firm's 59 department sores, 31 have been earmarked for closure as part of a restructuring agreement.