A company behind some of North-East England's best-known bars has gone into administration.
The problem has been blamed on the massive growth in the number of drinking outlets in the region.
Definnitive Leisure employs around 400 people and has 26 outlets in Newcastle and Whitley Bay.
Rival chain the Ladhar Group, whose portfolio includes lap-dancing clubs For Your Eyes Only and Blue Velvet, has reportedly stepped in to rescue the firm and safeguard the future of 340 jobs.
Definnitive, which took over Wessex Taverns two years ago after it went into administration, ran bars including Bob Trollope and Offshore, which are located on the city's Quayside.
An estimated 80,000 revellers drink in Newcastle each weekend, but an expansion in the number of licences and a clampdown on rowdy behaviour by police has left many pubs struggling.
Joe McLean, a partner with administrators Grant Thornton, said: "The sector is particularly difficult now. Most bars would admit that conditions in Newcastle are particularly competitive. There are a lot of pubs chasing the same drinkers.
"We're being told people's drinking habits are changing, with many people drinking indoors and not visiting pubs. This particular chain was experiencing particular problems against this backdrop and that contributed to it going into administration."
By Nigel Green