British retailer Debenhams is to enter into liquidation in Ireland, with the loss of almost 2,000 jobs.
Debenhams Ireland management have informed the Mandate trade union that the Irish arm of the business is to enter into liquidation.
This will see 11 stores across the country not re-open.
The company had already suspended trading due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
It confirmed to staff in a letter on Thursday "that these stores are not expected to re-open."
In a statement, Debenhams Group said it was having to "take some really tough decisions."
It said its Irish retail operations had trading challenges, which were exacerbated by the impact of COVID-19.
In the UK, Debenhams has entered into administration in order to protect the business.
Stefaan Vansteenkiste, CEO of Debenhams, said: "We are desperately sorry not to be able to keep the Irish business operating but are faced with no alternative option in the current environment.
"This decision has not been taken lightly and is no way a reflection on our Irish colleagues, whose professionalism and commitment to serving our customers has never been in question.
"The colleagues have been placed on temporary lay-off under the Irish Government’s payment support schemes for employers and we will be working with them to support them through this process.".
The company said customers can continue to shop online.
John Douglas, Mandate general-secretary, said this is the first major casualty of the coronavirus emergency.
"Despite knowledge that the company was in administration and that it wasn’t trading well, this news has come as a massive shock to our members who will be devastated by this announcement.
"Our sympathy is with each and every worker and their families who will today be wondering how they’re going to pay their rent, mortgage or their bills."
He added: "We are in close contact with the company and will remain so over the forthcoming process.
"We will be seeking a meeting with the liquidator when they are appointed and demanding that our members are prioritised throughout the liquidation process so that we can get the best possible deal for them."
Mr Douglas said the retail sector is in a very precarious state, and will need Government intervention.
"There is no end in sight to this COVID-19 pandemic and we are certain to see more turbulence across the economy, particularly in retail.
"Thousands of jobs and on the line and any state intervention must be directed at workers and protecting their living standards."