Jan 27, 2009
THE owners of Threshers, Wine Rack and The Local off-licence chains could close up to 400 branches.
The private equity-backed firm is in talks with landlords of unprofitable sites over cutting rents.
However, if the talks are not successful, the branches will close, the company confirmed.
The business has about 1,500 outlets, employs around 12,000 people, and is one of Britain's largest privately owned retailers.
A spokesman said: "Christmas trading has been reasonably good, but property is our biggest cost and we are looking at shutting stores, but it is too early to say how many."
Christmas sales were said to be down by 3.5 per cent on 2007.
In a statement the company said: "We had a strategic update in March 2008 about our plans to restructure the portfolio. There are plans to shed loss-making stores as you would expect any sensible retailer to do in these recessionary times."
Off-licence chains have been squeezed by promotions from the supermarkets and have found it hard to compete.
A source said: "Some staff have been given two days' notice and we have been told 400 stores are closing down."
Threshers has been running promotions since the autumn and still has a three-for-two deal.
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