The company that bought nine FreshXpress stores out of administration in March when the chain of 24 went bust has closed its store in Hull with the loss of 11 jobs.
Just eight stores are now trading as FreshXpress, headed up by MD Andrew King. "Hull was losing £260,000 pa on current run rates, with property costs and labour," King told The Grocer. "It was taking £22,000 to £23,000 a week and I couldn't see how I could get that up to £50,000," which was the figure needed to make it profitable.
"The staff were made redundant last Saturday, they were fully paid including notice and we all shook hands," said King.
The closure in Hull showed the company had "acted quickly and done the right thing for the people".
The eight remaining stores were doing "all right", he claimed. There are now three in Liverpool, two in Birmingham and one in Nottingham, Newport and Oswestry respectively.
King said he had introduced butchery and fresh produce concessions run by local companies in the three Liverpool stores, which were trading well. But he did not rule out further closures. "I can never say that," he said.
"I have to turn this business around and I'm not going to claim I will end up with 20 stores in the next 18 months. Likewise there's nothing to say we won't finish with five or six."
FreshXpress rose from the ashes of the Kwik Save estate, which went into administration in July 2007. The 24 original FreshXpress stores were backed by Irish entrepreneur Brendan Murtagh. That number soon shrank to nine after intense competition and poor purchasing power forced closures.
FreshXpress Group went into administration this March, and the nine trading stores were bought by a company called Ivybrim, which soon after changed its name to FX Holdings. The FreshXpress fascia has been kept although King said there were plans eventually to change each store name to better suit the location.