Optical Express is to close 40 stores after plunging its subsidiary into administration in the face of a “significant economic slowdown on the high street”.

PKF was appointed administrator to the 80-store subsidiary last night (Tuesday).

Optical Express is buying back the remaining 40 shops as part of the administration process, bringing the store estate to 130.

Employees of the stores set to close will be redeployed across the group.

Retail Week revealed on Monday that the retailer had filed an intention to appoint an administrator.

Joint administrator Bryan Jackson said: “The decision to close these stores has been taken reluctantly by the owner and management of the Optical Express Group.

“It, like all of the retail sector, has been adversely affected by difficult trading conditions, a reduction in consumer confidence, and the negative impact of the subdued economy.

“The decision to close one part of the group is intended to support and strengthen the remainder of the company and ensure it can operate successfully in the future.”

Optical Express chairman and chief executive David Moulsdale said on Monday: “Most of the locations closing are in tertiary high street locations that have been significantly impacted by markedly reduced trade due to both competition from shopping centres and reduced consumer spending due to the challenging economic climate.

“We are now in a position of strength to go forward and grow our business in these tough economic times.”