Littlewoods, which owns the Index catalogue business, is to cut 3,200 jobs in the UK.
The company plans to close 126 outlets and sell the remaining 33 to rival Argos. The sale of the shops will safeguard 800 out of Index’s 4,000-strong labour force in a deal worth about £44m.
Littlewoods owners the Barclay brothers said the sale came after mounting losses in the last 20 years which now totalled £100m.
The closure list features 33 stand-alone Index stores and a further 93 Index sites which trade within existing Littlewoods outlets.
Shopworkers union Usdaw said on Sunday the news had come out of the blue and that workers would be “devastated” by the job losses.