Clinton Cards has placed its loss-making Birthdays subsidiary into administration, putting 2,200 jobs at risk.
The card retailer, which acquired the Birthdays business in December 2004, said it could no longer continue to finance the business.
Jobs at the 323 Birthdays stores are now under threat. However, the firm said the Birthdays chain that operates in Ireland, and its core Clinton Card stores, would not be affected.
In a statement, Clinton Cards revealed Birthdays has continued to incur losses since the purchase in 2004. The current economic climate has not helped, and approximately 50% of all Birthdays stores were now making a loss, it said.
The Birthdays stores will continue to trade as usual while administrators Zolfo Cooper explore options to secure the future of the business.
Don Lewin, Clinton Cards chairman, said: “In the current environment, the group cannot sustain supporting losses of approximately £7m a year at Birthdays with limited opportunity to improve on that performance in the foreseeable future.”
Alastair Beveridge, a partner at Zolfo Cooper, said: “We will be working closely with management and employees as well as other key stakeholders over the coming months and are hopeful of securing the future of the business. We fully appreciate that this is a concerning time for employees and we will keep all stakeholders as fully appraised as possible.”