Troubled footwear retailer Footstar Inc is set to close 165 underperforming stores in a bid to strengthen and refocus its business under Chapter 11 protection.

The New York-based company, which filed for bankruptcy protection last week, will close all of its 88 Just For Feet stores and 77 of its 429 Footaction stores in the move.

In a motion filed with the US Bankruptcy Court, it has asked permission to hold 'going out of business' sales at each of these locations with the assistance of a liquidation agent.

Footstar CEO Dale Hilpert described the move as a "critical component" in the reorganisation of the company.

"We are conducting a thorough review of our operations as we work to develop a long-term business strategy that will form the basis of a plan of reorganisation," he said.

"While this analysis is underway, we determined that it would be in the best interests of the company and its creditors to take immediate action to reduce losses in the company's athletic segment."

The closings are expected to be completed by summer.