Discount retail giant Matalan Plc is expected to axe hundreds of jobs following poor sales for the 2005 year so far.

On the back of a reported 7.5 per cent slump in the first four months of 2005, Matalan's boss John King confirmed that the out-of-town chain will be forced to cut jobs in order to slash its costs.

King reported that total sales dropped 2.6 per cent in the 18 weeks ended the start of July, and said that the company's priority this year is to cut costs and improve margin levels and cash flow.

The company is reviewing its cost base in an exercise it hopes will cut down on £15 million annually, and is anticipated to lay off employees both at its head office in Skelmersdale, Lancashire, and across its network of stores.
Matalan currently employs 700 at its head office and 14,000 in its stores.

The retailer has already tightened levels at stock and narrowed space at three stores and is planning to do the same at an additional 15.

Matalan also announced that ex-Superdrug and Kingfisher executive Geoff Brady has been named non-executive deputy chairman at the company.