DIY and garden giant Homebase is to close up to 80 stores by the end of 2018.

The retailer, which currently operates 323 outlets across the UK, will axe what management described as a “tail of stores that are either unprofitable or in decline”.

A Homebase spokeswoman said it was not yet possible to say how the closures would affect the retailers’ gardening offering – or how many jobs would be lost.

Home Retail Group, which owns Homebase and Argos, reported a pre-tax profit of £13.5 million for the half-year until the end of August.

This represents a five per cent fall on the same period last year. Homebase’s like-for-like sales rose by 4.1 per cent during the period.

A Homebase spokeswoman said of the closures: “This is part of a plan to revitalise the business. The estate is too big – and is no longer relative to demand.”

Announcing the cuts, the company blamed a “cyclical downturn for a number of years through to 2012” in the DIY and home improvement market.

It also said today’s generation is less skilled in DIY projects. The company will focus on its digital (online) offering, which it sees as an area of growth.