AN Ilkley town centre supermarket is among the casualties of drastic cuts by troubled national retail chain Kwik Save.

Following months of speculation and frequently empty shelves, the store in Station Plaza finally closed its doors on Tuesday with the loss of 15 jobs.

Customers were met with a notice thanking them for their loyalty but claiming the store was closed due to unforeseeable circumstances.

The closure of the Ilkley store and 78 others nationwide by the Huddersfield based company - around a third of all its stores - comes less than four months after a £50million rescue package was ploughed into the firm by a private consortium of investors.

Ten of the supermarkets closed are in Yorkshire.

A spokesman for Kwik Save could not confirm how many jobs have been lost in Ilkley. It is believed that up to 800 jobs may have been lost nationally. The chain will be left with just 147 outlets.

Speculation now turns to the future of the building, the largest unit in Station Plaza, which is owned by a property management firm.

While some shoppers were dismayed at the loss of the store to the town centre, others were not surprised by the closure.

Visitor to the town, Ann Tomlinson, said she sympathised with an elderly woman trying to get into the supermarket. She said: "She had come all the way here on the train to go there because it was so convenient straight off the train.

"They have knocked the buses off where she lives as well, and the Tesco is quite a walk from here if you're carrying shopping."

And Denise Freeman, who works in a nearby bakery, said the shop was handy for buying shopping basics.

"We need that kind of down-to-earth shop around here," she said. "The staff have always been lovely and friendly."

Meanwhile, Paul Walker of Shefton Drive, said the supermarket was empty and like a ghost town' when he last visited. Another shopper said he once visited the supermarket for toilet tissue but found it had none in stock.

Kwik Save said in February that it had been suffering stock issues, and promised to work towards replenishing stock to acceptable levels.

It also hinted at the time that difficult decisions were ahead, but could not confirm the future of any particular store.

A Kwik Save spokesman confirmed that 79 of its stores were to close yesterday.

An official statement from the company said: "It is with regret that Kwik Save has had to make this difficult decision and announce these cut backs. Kwik Save would like to thank all of its staff affected by this regrettable situation, for their commitment to the company over the years."

The future of the Ilkley store remains unclear. Pub and restaurant chain JD Weatherspoon confirmed earlier this year that it had looked into taking on the unit, but abandoned its plans.

Kwik Save rents the unit from a development company which owns the Station Plaza complex.

Other units in the are occupied by the main Ilkley Post Office, two restaurants and a café, Laura Ashley store and other businesses.

The unit currently has planning permission for retail use only.

Ilkley Parish Council chairman, Councillor Heathcliffe Bowen, said the closure was regrettable for customers using the station who found it convenient, and for the staff who have lost their jobs.

"As far as the unit's concerned, the hope is that something suitable and worthwhile will be made of it to help to promote the variety of shopping for locals," he said.