Optical Express is closing 40 stores after filing an intention to appoint an administrator to one of its subsidiary companies.

The group, which operates around 170 shops in total, said it was “consolidating” its store portfolio to “focus resources on its flagship locations and online business”. No eye surgery clinics are to close.

The retailer said the move was to “to counter the significant economic slowdown on the high street”.

Chairman and chief executive of the Optical Express group David Moulsdale said: “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.”

It is understood PKF is being lined up as administrator.

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