THREE branches of British Home Stores in south Essex are under threat after the chain announced half of its shops could close.

BHS Limited has announced a “turnaround” plan due to its financial underperformance across its 164 stores.

The chain has branches in High Street, Southend, Town Square, Basildon, and Lakeside, West Thurrock.

In total, 77 stores are unaffected, while BHS will approach landlords at 47 stores to request a reduced rent rate.

A further 40 stores, deemed most at risk, will continue to trade for at least ten months while BHS negotiates to reduce rent “substantially”.

Chief executive Darren Topp said: “Some of our stores are loss making as we are being charged rents that are too high relative to today’s market.

“BHS will continue to trade as usual and we thank our staff and customers for their continued support.”

It is understood the restructure could see as many as 400 staff made redundant across the country.