The 40-year-old JTF Mega Discount Warehouse discount chain collapsed with the loss of 500 jobs.
The variety discounter had 12 stores in retail parks in the Midlands and northern England, but closed them all between late May and Friday last week.
Staff were informed by email today of his dismissal with immediate effect.
JTF chairman Arthur Harris, who bought the channel in January last year, told The Grocer that the layoffs were “the only real course of action.”
“We thought we got the sale of the business, but unfortunately the buyer pulled out at the last minute, leaving nowhere to go,” he said.
“The JTF had a fabulous team. I thought I did everything I could to turn the tide, making a profit in four months, but I just didn’t factor Covid into the scenario. Lockdown two and three wiped out fireworks and Christmas sales, two of the most important seasonal times for the JTF. “
JTF required customers to be members and sold a wide range of products from patio furniture to food and drink. Classified as essential, its shops remained open under confinement conditions.
A JTF spokesperson said he was continuing to look for a buyer. “JTF Mega Discount Warehouse has issued a notice of intent to appoint a director, protecting the company for 14 days while it struggles to find a buyer,” he said.
“The tough move comes after months of funding discussions and lobbying with local and national governments to save the 40-year-old UK retailer and protect the 500 people employed in its stores, warehouses and headquarters.
“JTF was rescued from administration by its current owner in early January 2020. New management took immediate action to significantly reduce the company’s overhead costs by around £ 2.5million per year and tackling £ 7million of debt which was successfully met, returning the business to profitability and a net profit of £ 1million in four months.
“The impact of the ensuing global pandemic presented unforeseen and significant challenges for the retailer. The management team fought to secure the funding needed to survive the pandemic, garnering the support of many MPs, lobbying the government and exploring many funding options to no avail. “
Staff were put on leave as stores closed and told customers and local press the closures were temporary.
A JTF employee told The Grocer: “We literally got the email today saying we are redundant. He says we will be paid until today.
“They closed Peterborough first and the staff were told to move. When they closed the other stores, we were told we had to relaunch.
“They closed about four every two weeks and the last four closed on Friday.”
The grocer understands that very little stock has been delivered to stores since January.
In June of last year, Harris recruited Resolve Advisors as a restructuring partner of the JTF as part of a corporate voluntary agreement to settle inherited debts.
As late as May of this year, the company announced plans for a new retail concept and 50 new stores. He said he was “bringing a unique retail concept to Main Street.” It was called JTF Central and “would put entertainment at the heart of the shopping experience, with the ambition to acquire 50 stores, between 25,000 and 125,000 square feet, and create 2,000 new jobs in the process. “.