The closure of Austins felt like a family bereavement and was greeted with tears by staff, according to former director Declan Hasson.
He said: “This was a family, more than just our family, this was like a mass bereavement, really, really hard to handle, and it is heart-wrenching.
“It was absolutely the worst, probably the worst day of my life, working life, because it was charged with emotion.
“And people, you know, there were 30 or 40 people, for the meeting that morning and it was so tearful.
“It was very hard to hold back tears I have to say. The tears came out from everyone including our selves. It was really, really hard going and the whole day from that afterwards, it was like a mass wake.”