HUNDREDS of jobs have been lost in a devastating day for the troubled retail sector.
Big name companies including HMV and B&Q are shedding almost 400 staff between them, although there remains hope that 600 jobs at the DIY chain will be saved.
Jobs Minister Richard Bruton said: "It is a difficult time and our sympathy is with the workers directly affected."
He argued that private-sector employment in the past 12 months had grown by 12,000 and some sectors were flourishing.
However, the retail sector has lurched from one crisis to another since Christmas with a series of high profile firms experiencing financial difficulty.
HMV Ireland's 300 staff will now be made redundant after the receiver appointed to the music and entertainment chain failed to find a buyer.
The workers who had been previously placed on temporary lay-off are being let go and the 16 stores around the country will remain closed.
The staff will receive statutory redundancy only, equating to two weeks' pay for every year of service and one further week's wages.
Administrators at HMV in the UK also announced last week that it was closing 66 of the chain's stores with the loss of 1,000 jobs.
Meanwhile the High Court confirmed an examiner to B&Q Ireland – which operates nine home- improvement stores across the country employing 690 people, of whom 500 are part-time workers.
The company's two stores in Athlone and Waterford will close with the "regrettable" loss of 92 jobs – 69 part-time and 23 full-time, Mr Justice Peter Kelly noted.
The company's other stores could survive with renegotiation of what the judge described as "extraordinary" rents.
Declan McDonald, who was appointed as examiner yesterday, had been encouraged by expressions of interest from four potential investors in addition to the company's parent, Kingfisher plc.
The court previously was told all vouchers, credit notes and deposits will be honoured by the company throughout the examinership period.
Another DIY store, Wickes in Limerick, has also ceased trading with the loss of 25 jobs.
A letter to all Limerick staff from Wickes manager Ciaran Ellis said the layoffs arose from "a decision imposed on us by external factors beyond our control". The company was last night contacted for comment, but none was forthcoming.
In further bleak news, fashion chain Republic is also set to enter administration in the UK.
Republic has 121 stores employing 1,000 people in the UK, and also retails in Liffey Valley, Blanchardstown in Dublin.