First Quench: A further 1,900 jobs to go as stores close within the month

Nearly 2,000 staff have been made redundant today as First Quench's administrators announce the closure of a further 381 stores.

The cut will result in 1,908 redundancies at store level and another 34 at First Quench’s head office in Welwyn Garden City.

KPMG said it was in advanced talks with potential buyers who are now competing for just 500 stores - down from 1,200 when the administrators were called in.

Richard Fleming, UK head of restructuring at KPMG and joint administrator, said: “We are now in advanced talks regarding the sale of the business with a number of interested parties and have ascertained that parts of the portfolio, consisting of just over 500 stores, are of interest to these potential purchasers. These stores will continue to trade while we progress with our negotiations.

“Unfortunately there has not been sufficient interest in these 381 stores as part of the going concern sale, so we have no option but to close them. However, we have had an enormous amount of interest in these sites from over 700 small local businesses and private individuals. Christie & Co is assisting us in assigning the leases of the remaining stores to interested buyers.”

Depending on stock levels, the 381 stores are due to close by 16 December and will be holding stock liquidation sales which will start on 24 November.

Today's announcement follows news earlier this month that 373 loss-making stores were to close following the administrators’ initial review of the business.