Staff who lost their jobs at a popular music store in Belfast have expressed their shock after arriving at work only to be told the firm had gone into liquidation despite a "successful" Christmas.
The devastating news came as a bombshell to Head Records' employees who had opened up as normal on Thursday morning.
Shortly afterwards, they received a phone call instructing them to pull the shutter down for the final time.
In a statement posted on the Head Belfast Facebook page, staff described a "chaotic" few days following the shock closure and said an emotional goodbye to loyal customers.
"I can assure you that the staff including the management had no warning and didn't foresee this following a successful Christmas," they wrote.
"In truth, the biggest sore point for the team, beside each of us losing our jobs, is that we were unable to say goodbye to our valued customers and friends."
The post, issued by 10 members of staff, described the "joy" their customers brought into the store, which has been based in Castlecourt since late 2010.
The statement said: "We had a huge base of regulars and felt blessed to be included in their routine. Too many to name!
"Huge thank you to you all for being a part of our little store; it made work not feel like work at all."
Customers who visited the independent music and film retailer were horrified to be greeted with an empty shop.
"More than just a record store to many of us," one social media user wrote.
"It was always a great place to shop, a great way to spend many an afternoon.
"The guys in-store were like good friends. Nothing was ever too much and great supporters of the local music scene. Devastating for the staff."
The chain's other branches, including its outlet store at Liffey Valley in Dublin, are also closing.
Although the company has not commented directly, staff of the Liffey Valley store also expressed profound sadness on Facebook.
"We are gutted that this has happened and is totally out of our control," they wrote.
"Our passion is music and I hope you continue to support independent record stores so this does not happen to other staff out there."
Head Records, which operated under the slogan 'We're independent and proud', boasted about being the largest stockist of vinyl records in Ireland.
The company dealt with a huge range of suppliers in order to meet growing customer demand.
It is understood that vouchers bought for people as Christmas presents will no longer be honoured.