UK firm First Quench Retailing, which operates the Threshers off-licence chain, has begun a consultation process that could see nearly 80 job cuts.

First Quench, which also owns The Local and Wine Rack stores, employs 340 head office staff. The company said today (16 March) that the consultation may lead to around 60 head office and 18 field management positions being made redundant.

"Like other retailers, First Quench Retail is operating in an exceptionally challenging economic climate with a consumer downturn and looking to re-shape the business for the future," a spokesperson for the retailer said.

In January, First Quench announced plans to close unprofitable stores in an attempt to cut costs.

The private equity-backed firm said that it was in talks with landlords of unprofitable stores that may face closure. Unconfirmed reports have suggested up to 400 may go, but the firm declined to comment on the figure.

The company has around 1,500 outlets and employs around 12,000 staff.