Kwik Save employees face a nervous wait to see whether their stores are among the 79 being closed in a massive costcutting exercise this morning.
The struggling supermarket chain is set to close 79 stores, more than a third of its high street presence, in a move which unions say will leave hundreds out of work.
Shopworkers' union Usdaw described the scale of the closures as "huge", adding it would seek an urgent meeting with the company to establish terms for workers' redundancy packages.
Explaining the need for the move, Kwik Save said in a statement: "In order to enable the business to succeed, the Kwik Save management team has had to announce these cutbacks to secure the future of the business."
Kwik Save's share of supermarket spending slipped from 1.2 per cent in 2006 to just 0.2 per cent this year, according to retail analysts.
In February Kwik Save said it had secured a £50 million rescue package from a private consortium, but last week Arla Foods stopped delivering milk to the firm because of "payment problems".