SHOP staff arrived for work at a Crewe store to find they no longer had jobs.
PowerHouse, the third biggest electrical retailer in the UK, went into administration last week, and all of the 15 full- and part-time staff at its outlet on the town's Grand Junction Retail Park were handed redundancy notices.
None of the 53 PowerHouse stores in the UK is currently trading and the administrators BDO Stoy Hayward are selling off the Crewe shop along with 52 stores around the country.
Shop workers' union Usdaw represents employees at the retail giant and its media officer, Paul Clarke, said: 'We had no indication from PowerHouse they were considering going into administration. So we were as shocked as our members to find out about their actions.
'We don't know what the future holds for the PowerHouse brand but we would encourage anyone taking over the sites to look at local people who know the area and the business.'
Usdaw general secretary John Hannett said the union would be making sure staff had a proper payout.
He said: 'Our members in Power-House have worked miracles in keeping PowerHouse afloat in the intensely competitive electrical goods sector.
'They turned up for work to be told the company has gone into administration which was a devastating blow for them.
'Our members have shown incredible loyalty to PowerHouse in often difficult times so they deserved better treatment than this.
'But Usdaw will work closely with the administrators to make sure they get the payouts they are entitled to.'
Jock Irvine, PowerHouse chairman, said he was 'extremely disappointed' but closure was the 'most responsible course of action'.
It is the latest blow to the Grand Junction Retail Park which has struggled to attract trade in the face of competition from Festival Park, Hanley and the Greyhound Park, Chester.
Crewe and Nantwich Borough Council leader Brian Silvester said: 'I'm shocked its happened so quickly, virtually overnight. I'm sorry that the staff have lost their jobs and hopefully they will find alternative employment in the near future.
'I'm unhappy at the loss of the store but I believe the retail park is doing well and I'm sure another company will come in to take the shop on and employ as many people if not more.'
* PowerHouse customers who have made recent purchases can call a helpline number - 0845 603 4037 - if they have any issues with warranties or returns.