Discount retailer Poundworld, which has a store in Canterbury city centre, is being put up for sale.
Like many high street businesses, the firm is struggling to deal with falling consumer confidence, a weak pound and the burgeoning online market.
Owner TPG Capital, a US private equity firm, has paused plans to sell off 100 of the stores in a restructuring process.
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That would have allowed the 255 remaining outlets to remain open.
But news of the alternative sell-off proposal has left Poundworld’s 5,550 staff facing an even more uncertain future.
As well as Canterbury, Poundworld has Kent stores in Chatham, Strood, Dartford and Gravesend.
The Canterbury store has been open since 2014 when the company acquired two units, formerly Bon Marche and Santander, at a rent starting at £175,000 per year. Its lease is due to last 10 years.
Poundworld was created in 2004, but says it can trace its roots back to a single market stall operating in Wakefield, West Yorkshire, in the 1970s.
TPG Capital bought a majority stake in Poundworld in 2015.
It is the same firm which owns the Prezzo and Chimichanga restaurants.
In early March, it announced plans to shut the city’s Chimichanga Tex-Mex restaurant in the former Post Office in the High Street.
The Prezzo restaurant will, however, remain open, but 94 others across the UK will close.
It is understood that TPG Capital is pursuing the plan to off-load the Poundworld stores after receiving expressions of interest from potential buyers.
One of those could be Poundland, whose Canterbury outlet occupies the former Woolworth’s store in St George’s Street.
Mark Kleinman, the City editor at Sky News, estimated that Poundworld’s new owners would look to close a quarter of its stores. He described the Poundworld situation as the “latest illustration of the carnage being wrought across the retail industry amid weak sales and rising costs”.