Debt-laden retailer Bakers Footwear Group is to shed more than 70 stores and up to one-third of its staff in an effort to turn around the ailing company.

According to SEC filings, company COO Joseph VanderPluym, chief planning officer Stanley Tusman and chief merchandising officer Mark Ianni have all lost their jobs as Bakers aims to restructure its business – and up to one in three of the company’s employees could also be axed under the plans.

The company will reduce its retail base by 72-77 stores by year-end fiscal 2012 to second quarter 2013, selling up to 52 of them to Aldo US for US$6.4m and closing 20-25 under-performing outlets this autumn.

The closures and sell-offs will generate up to $7m in annual expense reduction, said Bakers, with a similar amount raised by liquidating inventory.

The proceeds from the actions will be used to reduce debt and improve cash flow.

The company said it would focus solely on its Bakers brand in the future, restoring its position in the moderately priced footwear market under new leadership, and ending its H by Halston licence on 31 December this year.

Bakers admitted that it was in default on its credit line, but said it was in negotiations with chief lender Crystal in an effort to secure a forbearance agreement and, eventually, to return to compliance.

The result in fiscal 2013, the company said, would be net sales of about $140m from 141-146 Bakers stores, with e-commerce sales representing a 15-20% proportion of total sales.

“We expect to generate significant short-term cash and savings over the next 12 months, which will enable us to reduce outstanding debt and improve cash flow,” said Bakers chairman and CEO Peter Edison.