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400 UK off licence stores at risk

Up to 400 branches of Threshers, Wine Rack and The Local off licence chains could face closure as its owner re-evaluates its portfolio.

First Quench Retail, which runs all three brands, is reportedly in talks with the landlords of their unprofitable branches.

The group is looking to cut overheads and improve profits. If negociations are unsuccessful, the stores in question will close, it was confirmed.

‘The number of stores that could close is dependent upon our capacity to reach suitable agreements with these landlords’, said a spokesperson for the group. ‘This plan is underway to shed loss-making stores, as any sensible retailer would do…during these recessionary times.’

As part of the restructuring plan First Quench Retail said it had remodeled 276 Wine Rack stores and converted a further 23 branches from Threshers to The Local.

However, despite three-for-two deals and numerous promotions including the 40% off Wine Rack offered during the winter holiday period, The Evening Standard said Christmas sales in the stores were down by 3.5% on 2007.

One source reportedly told the London newspaper that ‘some staff have been given two days’ notice and we have been told 400 stores are closing down’.

The spokesperson would not comment on the number of stores under review.

First Quench Retail currently has 1,500 stores nationwide and employs around 9,000 people.

Written by Victoria Daskal

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