Threshers owner First Quench Retail is set to close hundreds of stores as part of an ongoing drive by the group to cut costs.

The company, which also owns the Wine Rack and The Local chains, could close up to 400 unprofitable outlets, according to reports.

First Quench is now in discussions with landlords of loss-making stores with a view to ending or renegotiating leases.

"We are in a negotiation period with the landlords of unprofitable stores," a spokeswoman confirmed. "The number of stores that could close is dependent upon our capacity to reach suitable agreements with these landlords."

The move is part of a four-year plan to boost profitability announced by the group last year. Around 100 stores have closed to date from a total of 1,500.

In November the group changed its name back to First Quench, having traded as Thresher Group while under the ownership of Terra Firma Capital Partners. Vision Capital subsequently took over the group in 2007.