Page last updated at 12:11 GMT, Saturday, 27 December 2008

Woolworths NI stores close doors

Woolworths store
Northern Ireland was one of Woolworths most profitable regions.

Trading in five of Woolworths 19 stores in Northern Ireland comes to an end later.

More than 200 branches of the company in the UK will close with the loss of thousands of jobs.

The five Northern Ireland branches are at Ballymena, Armagh, Enniskillen, Lurgan and Newry.

Unless there is a last-minute rescue effort, the remaining 600 stores will close on 5 January and 27,000 staff will lose their jobs.

The chain called in administrators last month amid mounting debts of 385m.

Pat Kelly, a former manager of the Armagh branch, said the Northern Ireland outlets formed one of the company's top regions.

"Everybody is very, very upset about the whole situation," he said.

"The stores in Northern Ireland were always the top stores in performance, both in sales and profit, in the company."

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