The Focus DIY chain has said it intends to go into administration.
The move follows "notification of an event of default under the senior credit facility, and a realisation that there were no alternatives that could be explored any further".
Focus DIY was founded by Bill Archer in 1987, with six stores in the Midlands and the north of England.
The company now has 178 stores in England, Scotland and Wales, and employs more than 3,900 staff.
Focus said its directors had sought consent from the firm's lenders to appoint Ernst & Young as the administrators.
All stakeholders including staff are being informed.
"We're seeing consumers adjusting their behaviour to take account of having less money and less job security," said Richard Hyman, strategic advisor to Deloitte.
"Six or seven years ago, DIY was the sector in the fast lane, but now it is in the slow lane because people are not moving house."
Focus used to own the Wickes chain, which it bought in September 2000 before selling it in February 2005 to Travis Perkins.
Private equity firm Cerberus bought Focus in 2007 for £1. It was heavily indebted at the time and Cerberus said it would pay off the firm's £174m of debts.