DAVID Moulsdale is closing around one-quarter of his Optical Express stores in a dramatic restructuring that involves putting part of the group into administration.

The Scottish entrepreneur plans to close 40 stores, including three in Scotland, to help the group weather the challenges posed by the downturn on the high street and fierce competition.

"Most of the [stores] closing are in tertiary high street locations that have been significantly impacted by reduced trade due to competition from shopping centres and reduced consumer spending as a result of the economic climate," said Mr Moulsdale.

The restructuring will leave Optical Express with around 130 stores, including 55 in Scotland.

Amid speculation the firm is in talks to buy the Ultralase eye surgery business, Mr Moulsdale insisted the slimmed-down group would be in good shape.

"We are now in a position of strength to go forward and grow our business in these tough economic times," said Mr Moulsdale, one of Scotland's most successful businessmen.

The son of a Glasgow taxi driver, Mr Moulsdale began work in an optician's when he left school aged 16. He opened his first outlet in 1991. His wealth has been estimated at £60 million.

The Cumbernauld-based company became one of the UK's biggest opticians after buying up several rivals. It also offers laser eye surgery and private dentistry. The slowdown in retail markets, however, has weighed heavily on some of its stores.

It faces intense competition from the likes of Boots, supermarkets and online operations.

Mr Moulsdale has put the division formerly known as Optical Express (Southern) into administration. Now called Leeds123, Optical Express (Southern) had a turnover of £97m in the year to January 1, 2011, when the group holding company, DCM (Optical Holdings) had £205m turnover.

Stores on Sauchiehall Street, Glasgow, in the St James Centre, Edinburgh, and a store in Dunfermline will close. The jobs of around 100 UK employees may be affected.

Optical Express said fewer than 20 people may be affected in Scotland. Those who can not be redeployed will be offered the chance to retrain for its call centre operations. The group has 992 employees in Scotland.

Asked if the restructuring was required by Royal Bank of Scotland, banker to DCM (Optical Holdings), a spokesman for Optical Express said: "The decision to restructure was in the best interests of the business, our people and our customers and that decision was 100% taken by the board, led by David. Once that decision had been taken we informed our bankers as is normal practice."

In February Frank Blin, former head of the Scottish operations of Big Four accountant PwC, joined the board of DCM (Optical Holdings).

Mr Blin said he would be supporting the board in dealing "with some short-term trading challenges but, more importantly, the strategic development of the business".

He said Royal Bank of Scotland, banker to DCM (Optical Holdings), was "aware of the appointment and supportive of the appointment" but emphasised he had been brought in by the eyecare company.

Asked if Optical Express is in takeover talks with Ultralase, the spokesman for Optical Express said: "While we don't comment on speculation I can confirm our sole focus at present is on executing this restructuring to deliver a very strong footing for our future growth and development."