Retailer Harris Scarfe has been placed into receivership, raising questions over the future of its stores in Launceston, Ulverstone and Devonport.
Deloitte Restructuring Services had been appointed receivers and plan to sell the business as a going concern.
The business employs 1800 staff at 66 stores in Victoria, South Australia and Tasmania and achieves annual sales worth $380 million.
It is best known for sales in bed linen, kitchenware, homewares, electrical appliances and clothing.
Receiver-manager Vaughan Strawbridge said trading would continue as usual over the Christmas period and employees would continue to be paid by the receivers.
He said he believed there was sufficient assets within the business to meet all employee entitlements.
Mr Strawbridge said the receivers wanted to sell the business as a going concern to protect the employment of as many people as possible.
"Harris Scarfe is a longstanding retail institution," he said.
"We will be making every effort to secure a future for the business and intend to commence an immediate sale of business process."
The business was placed in administration in 2001, owing $200 million to creditors.
It was restructured during this time and its branding and inventory revitalised.
Launceston Chamber of Commerce executive officer Neil Grose said the news was concerning.
"While the receivers have indicated that trading will continue as normal over the Christmas period, it is worrying as to the long-term future of this important retailer in the city," he said.
"This also points to the national trend away from department store style retailing and again highlights the importance for regional cities such as Launceston to find successful strategies that will encourage shoppers back in to the city on a long term and consistent basis."
The Harris Scarfe store has long been a fixture in the Brisbane Street Mall.
University of Tasmania business academic Louise Grimmer wrote a report on retail for the City of Launceston in October.
She said the sight of empty stores provided a negative response from shoppers and recommended real estate agents and landlords worked together to encourage short-term retail leases and pop-up stores.