SCOTTISH jobs are under threat as embattled fashion retailer New Look announced proposals to shut 60 stores and slash rent on nearly 400 shops as part of a rescue plan.

The retailer has 600 stores in the UK, with around 50 in Scotland.

It said the closures would lead to redundancies, with up to 980 jobs out of its workforce of 15,300 under threat, although it said it would look to redeploy staff where possible.

Its rescue plan will also see the group ask landlords to slash the rent and revise leases on 393 stores across the UK.

Alistair McGeorge, executive chairman of New Look, said: “Given our challenged trading performance and over-rented UK store estate, we are having to take tough but necessary actions to reduce our fixed cost base and restore long-term profitability.”

New Look confirmed that all stores will remain open as normal until March 21 when creditors vote on the CVA proposal, a voluntary agreement designed to allow a company and its creditors to reach agreement and avoid administration.

Details of the potential job losses and store closures follow dire figures from New Look last month, when it posted a pre-tax loss of £123.5 million in the three quarters to December, while UK like-for-like sales plunged 10.7 per cent and online sales fell 15 per cent.

It comes in a dismal start to 2018 for the UK high street, with the collapse of Toys R Us and Maplin last month and a host of restaurant chains undergoing painful restructurings, including eateries run by celebrity chef Jamie Oliver, as well as Byron and Prezzo.

Retailers have been hit hard over the past two years by surging wage costs, eye-watering business rate hikes and inflation caused by the weak pound, which have coincided with falling consumer confidence.

Daniel Butters, a partner at Deloitte who is handling the New Look CVA, said: “The retail trading environment in the UK remains extremely challenging, driven by weaker consumer confidence, the implications of Brexit and competition from online channels.

He said they believed it was a “fair proposal” for New Look’s landlords and stressed that “employees, suppliers and business rates will continue to be paid on time and in full”.