The company’s owner, Sir Philip Green, told the BBC the closures would likely arise as store leases came up for renewal.

The group, which also owns Miss Selfridge, Burton and Dorothy Perkins made a profit of £133m in the year to August, compared to £213.1 million last year.

It also reported same-store UK sales down by 1.8%, with total sales at its 3100 outlets worldwide down by 3.4%.

Sales have worsened, falling 4.4% since the start of the new financial year.

Sir Philip said the firm had decided not to pass on certain higher business costs and this had squeezed its profit margin by 1.8 percentage points, costing it £52.4m.

He said: “Trading conditions remain extremely challenging, with style, quality and value at the top of our agenda and more important than ever.

“Additionally, the warmest October and November on record have made autumn trading much tougher.”

Sir Philip, whose family ranks 13th on the 2011 Sunday Times UK rich list with an estimated fortune of £4.2 billion, told the BBC:

“We have got – from my memory – 450 or 460 stores where leases expire in the next three years. And I think on our latest summary we will close more than half of those on lease expiry. So I would say, I would expect us to close 250, 260.

“Now, there may be other opportunities that turn up that we might want to open. But certainly, in terms of our existing portfolio, currently that’s our thinking.”