THE future of Chester's Mothercare store is uncertain as the mother and baby products retailer plans to close down 60 branches over the next year.

Creditors had backed a company voluntary arrangement (CVA), which allows companies to shut loss-making shops and reduce rents.

It is planned for 60 stores to close down by June 2019, leaving just 77 in the UK, and for that to reduce further to 73 by the end of the 2021-22 financial year.

In addition, 19 of those remaining stores would be on reduced rents, suggesting they would be operating at a smaller size in future.

Chester's Mothercare store is located on the Greyhound Retail Park, along a row of stores which once housed Toys R Us and Maplin Electronics, which have both closed this year.

A company spokesman said Mothercare will not yet disclose which stores are to close, as the priority is for staff to be informed in advance.

The firm's Children's World division will go into administration, with 13 of its 22 stores being transferred to the Mothercare brand.

Clive Whiley, Mothercare interim executive chairman, said: "When I joined the business just three months ago, Mothercare faced a bleak future with growing and pressing financial stresses upon the business.

"We have worked tirelessly as a team to get to where we are today and this fully underwritten equity issue marks the end of this initial phase, returning the Group to financial stability.

"Whilst the lack of full approval for the Children's World CVA was disappointing, we have now found a solution which allows us to go further and faster with the right-sizing of our store portfolio.

"We have also identified significant areas for further efficiencies and cost savings, which will underpin our return to a sustainable future.

"The last three months of hard work and progress have put in place the foundations to get Mothercare back to where it should be as a fit for purpose business with a stronger and more efficient structure both for our UK business and our international franchisees."

In May, Mothercare unveiled a brutal set of annual results, swinging to a £72.8 million pre-tax loss in the year to March 24, which compares with a £7.1 million profit in 2017.

The store closures come at a dismal time for the high street.

Since January, Toys R Us and Maplin have filed for administration, while fashion retailers such as New Look, Carpetright and others have embarked on radical store closure programmes.