Retail group Littlewoods is to cut up to 3,200 jobs after announcing plans for the closure of 126 of its Index catalogue-based outlets.
Six stores in the West Midlands are facing the axe with the loss of up to 90 jobs, while eight more in the wider region are also under threat.
The Index stores in Walsall, Coventry, Erdington in Birmingham, Merry Hill, West Bromwich and Wolverhampton are among those facing closure. The outlet in Union Street Birmingham, is among the 33 shops in the chain which are being sold to Argos owner GUS.
Across the Midlands the company also has shops in Burton, Hanley, Hereford, Kidderminster, Oswestry, Shrewsbury, Stafford and Telford.
The news is the latest jobs blow in the retail sector, following the demise of the department store chain Allders and the 65-outlet Gadget Shop chain.
Index was acquired by Sir David and Sir Frederick Barclay in 2002 as part of a £750 million deal to buy the Littlewoods Group from the Moores family.
The proposals from Littlewoods will see half of the 66 stand- alone Index stores closed within six months, with the rest sold to GUS for £44 million.
A further 93 Index stores, which trade within existing Littlewoods sites, will close with the space being retained by the Liverpool- based company.
Index has a total of 4,000 staff, with around 800 employees set to be transferred to Argos.
Now the Index sites are facing closure, speculation is mounting that the Barclay brothers are also poised to sell the 119-strong Littlewoods stores chain, with discount clothing retailer Primark tipped to be a buyer.
Littlewoods chairman David Simons said: "Index has made a loss in nearly every year of its 20-year history, and has accumulated losses of over £100 million despite many attempts by different management teams to turn the business around.
"The decision to divest the business has not been an easy one to make but it is the only solution to a difficult and unsustainable situation.
"Our concern now is for those employees affected and we will work hard with them and the unions to achieve the best outcome we can."
Shopworkers' union Usdaw said workers were " devastated" by the job losses and officials said they were demanding to see the company's business case.
National officer John Gorle said his priority was to help find other jobs within the group for his members.
He said: "This decision has come completely out of the blue.
"Staff at the 131 stores where there is no buyer, head office workers based in Liverpool and distribution staff at Wednesbury in the West Midlands now face a very uncertain future, which is terrible news for them and their families.
"The long history of Littlewoods means there are many long- serving and loyal employees who now face the prospect of losing their jobs.
"As part of our discussions with the company, we will be urging them to redeploy as many as possible of staff affected by this decision."