First Quench Retailing (FQR), the owner of Threshers, Wine Rack and The Local off-licence chain is seeking to close unprofitable stores in an attempt to cut costs.

The private equity-backed firm said today (26 January) that it is in talks with landlords of unprofitable stores that may face closure. Unconfirmed reports have suggested up to 400 may go, potentially costing thousands of jobs.

The company has around 1,500 outlets and employs around 12,000 staff. A spokesperson for FQR said that the latest reports were all part of a strategic plan announced by the company back in March 2008 to "improve company performance" and focus on the "profitable majority during these recessionary times".

A group spokesperson told just-drinks today: "As part of the restructuring, we are currently in a negotiation period with the landlords of unprofitable stores. The number of stores that could close is dependent upon our capacity to reach suitable agreements with these landlords."

The company has so far remodelled 276 Wine Rack 'true blue' stores and converted a further 23 stores from the Threshers to The Local brand. Quench also opened an additional eight sites in the last half of 2008 and rolled out its convenience offering through The Local brand to around 350 stores.