FreshXpress, the c-store chain that grew out of the remains of Kwik Save, has gone into administration, The Grocer has learnt.

Store managers were told this week that administrators had been called in, while phone numbers for HQ and many stores were no longer available. The retailer was only trading out of nine stores this week following a raft of store closures in January and February. It began trading last July with 56 former Kwik Save stores but only ever opened 24 as FreshXpress.

It also emerged that MD Paul Niklas had cut ties with FreshXpress and sold his interest two months ago. He told The Grocer there had been a restructure of the store portfolio but had no further information.

The business had been supplied by symbol operator Costcutter, but chairman Colin Graves said he was unaware of the group's latest difficulties. A FreshXpress manager said he had received an email on Thursday confirming the chain was under the control of Menzies Corporate Restructuring. "We haven't a clue what is going on," said the manager, who was in the store with another local store manager. "This was the first we had heard about it."

On an internet forum, one ex-employee said he had got a redundancy notice two weeks ago. "They sent us all mail to our homes telling us we will get redundancy and two weeks' wages. Guess what? Today is the day it's meant to be in my account. And it's not. It gave us two weeks' notice. And then we just had a sale and - bam! - closed on 15 March."

Usdaw was angered that staff appeared to be left in as bad a position as staff affected when Kwik Save folded. "They will only be paid the statutory minimum in terms of redundancy pay because the company has gone into administration," said Usdaw national officer Joanne McGuinness. "We will do all we can to help members claim their entitlement from the BERR department."