Forever 21 has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in the US amid plans to close up to 350 stores across the globe.

The fast fashion operator, which only has a clutch of UK stores including a flagship on London’s Oxford Street, said it would “exit most international locations in Asia and Europe”.

However, it will continue to operate in Mexico and Latin America.

Almost 180 of the closures could come in its native US as it bids to radically restructure to stay afloat.

Chapter 11 protection acts in a similar way to a company voluntary arrangement (CVA) in the UK, postponing a US company’s financial obligations to creditors to give it time to refinance or sell parts of the business.

As part of that process, Forever 21 aims to slash its store estate from around 800 to between 450 and 500.

It has already requested approval to close up to 178 stores in the US.

A spokesman for the retailer said: “Decisions as to which international locations will be closing are ongoing. We do not expect to exit any major markets in the US.”

Forever 21 said it has already obtained $275m (£224m) from existing lenders, in addition to $75m (£61m) in new capital.

Its executive vice president Linda Chang said it marked an “important and necessary step to secure the future of our company, which will enable us to reorganise our business and reposition Forever 21”.

Forever 21 sent a public letter in a bid to reassure its customers on Sunday following the proceedings. It said stores were open and insisted “it will continue to feel like a normal day” inside the stores.

The retailer has struggled in recent years amid the onslaught of ecommerce and fierce competition from the likes of H&M and Zara.