THE first Sussex branch of much-loved retail store BHS closes today, taking with it 37 jobs.

The closure of the Worthing branch of British Home Stores represents the first of seven stores in the county to shut for the last time, costing an estimated 200 jobs in total.

On Wednesday (August 3) branches in Horsham, Eastbourne and Crawley will close, with the remaining stores in Sussex - Chichester, Hastings and a flagship store at Churchill Square in Brighton - to shut by August 20 or sooner, depending on stock levels.

One man losing his job at Worthing is Robert Stroud, who was set to celebrate 20 years at the shop in October.

The 55-year-old, who lives in Worthing, told The Argus: "I feel like I have been chucked out on the scrap heap."

He told of others at the branch who had put in more than 20 years of service. One employee has worked in the same shop for 38 years. Another will lose her house because of the closure, Mr Stroud said.

The Worthing branch is one of 40 nationally to close today, with the loss of more than 700 jobs.

BHS fell into administration in April, leaving behind a £571 million pensions black hole and sparking an investigation by MPs into its demise.

Previous owner, billionaire Sir Philip Green, and former bankrupt Dominic Chappell, have been blamed for their role in the firm's collapse.

Mr Stroud added: "I blame Philip Green and Mr Chappell, and all the people working under them."

On Wednesday, Frank Field, a member of Parliament and co-author of a report into the demise of BHS, called on the Serious Fraud Office to launch a formal inquiry into the actions of the department store chain’s former owners.

The damning report found Sir Philip extracted large sums and left the business on "life support".

Mr Field accused Sir Philip of "nicking money off other people".

Administrator Duff & Phelps said that 8,000 permanent jobs are likely to be lost in all with another 3,000 not directly employed by BHS also at risk.

Philip Duffy, managing director of Duff & Phelps, said: "The British high street is changing and, in these turbulent times for retailers, BHS has fallen as another victim of the seismic shifts we are seeing.

"The tireless work and goodwill of the existing management team and employees of BHS with the support of my team were not enough to change the fortunes of the company."