Regional discount retailer Ann & Hope, one of the pioneer discount store operators, is shuttering its four stores in Massachusetts and scaling back its locations in Warwick and Cumberland, R.I, Chain Store Age reported.

The decision comes after years of sagging sales and fierce competition from nationwide discount chains. The closures will not affect the retailer's 13 Fashion Outlet stores, 10 Kid Outlet locations or two Curtain & Bath stores.

Roughly 840 employees will be affected by the closures in Seehonk, Danvers, North Dartmouth and Watertown, Mass. An additional 560 workers will be laid off due to the reductions in the two Rhode Island stores.

Ann & Hope's stores in Rhode Island will be operated on a smaller scale and will be renamed Ann & Hope Outlet stores. They will specialise in low-priced clothing, domestics and houseware.