Blacks Leisure has said it is to briefly enter administration as part of a takeover deal.
The so-called prepack arrangement will wipe out the value of existing shares, which have now been suspended from trading on the London Stock Exchange.
The retailer said it had received a number of final offers for the bulk of the business and expected to announce a deal in the next few days.
Blacks' stores will remain open for business as usual in the meantime.
The company owns 98 Blacks outlets, 208 Millets stores and the Peter Storm and Eurohike brands. It employs about 3,500 people.
Three partners from accountancy firm KPMG are expected to be appointed administrators, but only once details of an immediate onward sale of the company's key trade, assets and brands has been finalised.
A pre-pack administration is one in which the insolvent company has already arranged for a buyer of its profitable assets beforehand.
It will also allow the firm to write off its £36m debts, and help it to close down loss-making parts of the business.
Any buyer is expected to require the closure of, or job losses at, Blacks' head office and warehouse in Northampton.
Last month, Blacks appealed for an investor to rescue it, by buying the firm or its brands.
Sports Direct, whose existing 22.5% stake in Blacks is about to be wiped out, had said that it had lost interest in buying the rest of the firm.
But there is speculation that the sportswear retailer, which is owned by Newcastle United owner Mike Ashley, is still on a shortlist of remaining bidders.
Peter Jones, the Dragon's Den entrepreneur, announced on Twitter that he is not buying the firm.
"You'll no doubt find out who the buyer is later today," he added.
Other potential buyers may include sportswear chain, JD Sports.
Scottish clothes chain Edinburgh Woollen Mill and outdoor goods firm Mountain Warehouse are thought to have dropped out of contention.
Blacks reported a £16m loss for the first half of its financial year and last month warned that its annual results would be worse than expected.
The company's shares had fallen by 97% over the last 12 months prior to their suspension of trading on Friday.