These are ?extraordinary times? said Eastman Kodak?s chief executive after announcing that almost one in five of the company?s global workforce face losing their jobs.

Kodak is poised to cut between 3,500 and 4,500 staff ? up to 18% of the firm?s employees.

?The second half of 2008 will go down in history as one of the most challenging periods we have seen in decades,? said Kodak boss Antonio Perez.

Kodak recorded a net loss of $137m for the fourth quarter of last year.

Its worldwide sales plunged 24% compared to the same period the year before.

Sales of digital imaging products fell 30%, while film and photofinishing sales were 27% down.

The news comes as British photo chain Jessops announced heavy losses.

Earlier today Jessops stated: ?These are the most difficult and uncertain retail trading conditions that we have seen in the photographic market for a long time.?

But the global recession is not likely to fuel a downward trend in product prices for consumers anytime soon.

Many UK photo firms – including Nikon, Canon and Sigma – have already been forced to drastically raise their prices on the back of the plunging value of the pound.