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The decision was taken by administrators for the failed bargain retailer - appointed last month after last-ditch rescue talks failed.

Deloitte had been trying to find a buyer for the business as a whole but its 5,000 staff were told on Tuesday that the option was no longer on the table though discussions were continuing with a number of interested parties on a partial sale.

:: Staff 'in tears' as first jobs cut at Poundworld

Other retailers could pick off parts of its 355-strong store estate, while a slimmed-down Poundworld operation may also be viable.

But in a memo to staff, the administrator said: "As previously advised, the administrators have been preparing contingency plans in the event that we are not able to deliver a sale of the business as a whole.

"These plans have been continuing and it is with regret that the administrators have taken the decision to effect an organised wind down of 25 stores, starting today."

That last day of trading for the affected stores will be July 15.

The founder of Poundworld, Chris Edwards, had been hoping to save some stores and about 3,000 jobs out of a total of 5,100 but he said Deloitte turned down the bid last week.

It is the biggest chain by number of employees this year to fall into insolvency, just over four months after the same fate befell Maplin and Toys R Us.