PE-Backed Threshers Closes 100 Shops

LONDON (Reuters) – First Quench Retailing, the British drinks group that owns Threshers, The Local and Wine Rack chains, said on Friday it had shut 100 stores in the past six months and was reviewing other sites for possible closure.

A company spokeswoman said on Friday that the group, owned by private equity firm Vision Capital, was in talks with landlords of an number of sites as part of a restructuring programme announced in March 2008.

The talks would determine how many more stores might have to close, she said, adding that she could not confirm a report in the Times newspaper that the group would shut up to 400 outlets.

She was unable to say how many jobs had been lost at the 100 stores that have already been closed.

The spokeswoman said First Quench currently has 1,500 shops and employs 9,000 people.

Underlying sales at the group’s Wine Rack chain fell 3.5 percent over Christmas, she said. (Reporting by Mark Potter; editing by Karen Foster)