Lewes customers of Phones4u found the High Street shop closed on Monday after the company went into administration.
The mobile phone company’s website opens to a hearfelt message from the team:
Giving phone numbers to call for help, it said: “Dear Customer, Following the unexpected decision of EE and Vodafone to withdraw supply from Phones4U , we regret that we are offline. Please accept our apologies and we will update you as soon as possible.
Thank you for your custom
The heartbroken Phones4u Team”
The chain is owned by private equity firm BC Partners and employs 5,596 people at more than 700 outlets - 560 stores and 160 concessions - across the UK.
There are believed to be 20 outlets in Sussex employing a total of 97 staff.
Phones 4U said mobile phone network EE had not renewed its contract.
This came after Vodafone made the same decision.
“If mobile network operators decline to supply us, we do not have a business,” Phones 4U boss David Kassler told the BBC.
The company said established mobile contracts would not be affected but phones which had been ordered and not despatched would be.
Robert Jonathan Hunt, Ian David Green and Robert John Moran, of accountancy firm PwC, have been appointed as administrators to Phones 4u Limited (P4U), which they call ‘a leading independent mobile phone retailer with an annual turnover of £1 billion’.
In addition to its retail operations, P4U also runs its own network operator, Life Mobile Limited, which is also in administration.
Rob Hunt, joint administrator and PwC partner, said: “This is a very sad day for the business and the many people working there.
“In light of our impending appointment the directors understandably took the decision to close all the shops today and sent many staff home.
“Our initial focus will be to quickly engage with parties who may be interested in acquiring all or part of the business, and to better understand the financial position and options for the company.
“The stores will remain closed while we have these conversations.
“We will also be talking to network operators and suppliers, and trying to access funds to pay for the costs of the business, including wages.
“These conversations will determine whether we can re-open stores and trade, and also if and when we can pay the arrears of wages to employees.
“Our hope is that we will be able to pay all the outstanding wages arrears.”